Addressing the Homeownership Gap
When it comes to homeownership, African Americans and other historically underserved communities continue to fall behind other households, by nearly a 21% margin.
Why does the gap exist?
Decades of discriminatory housing practices beginning in the 1930s made it nearly impossible for African Americans to purchase a home. It wasn’t until the Fair Housing Act of 1968 was passed – which made housing discrimination illegal – that things began to change. Though progress has been made over the years, there’s still much to do. Ultimately, closing the homeownership gap will require a collective action by government stakeholders, industry, the private sector, nonprofits and academia.
Addressing the barriers to minority homeownership is a key priority for Virginia Housing.
To help remove these barriers, we’ve dedicated $1 million toward housing education and counseling, and partnered with organizations like Prince William County’s NAACP chapter, where we presented a four-part online series for first-time homeowners. The series included information about our first-time homebuyer programs, how to work with a Realtor, how to work with a lender and the benefits of working with a housing counselor. Because of the program’s success, we expanded the effort to NAACP chapters across the state.
“This was a great opportunity to share our free consumer resources with such a historical group as the NAACP, which for decades has focused on political issues, education, social awareness and equality for people of color,” said LaDonna Cruse, Virginia Housing’s Education Manager.
We’ve also created a Minority Business Advisory Council to promote the participation of minority-owned businesses and partnered with the National Association of Minority Mortgage Bankers of America and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers to help find ways to break down barriers to homeownership. In addition, we launched a homeownership marketing campaign designed to reach a broader multicultural audience.
Other housing organizations across the country are also making big steps toward closing the gap. Enterprise, a national nonprofit focused on affordable housing, created a $3.5 billion initiative that establishes an equitable path forward for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (“BIPOC”) and other historically marginalized housing providers. Netflix Inc. is a big contributor, committing $25 million to the cause.
Similarly, LISC – another nonprofit that connects communities with public and private resources – created Project 10X, a $1 billion initiative aimed at closing the racial health, wealth and opportunity gaps.
“Despite the challenges that have been thrown our way due to COVID-19, we will continue our efforts to increase homeownership education among African Americans and other underserved groups,” said Cruse. “Our newest initiative, ‘Chatting It Up Live: Homebuying with Virginia Housing,’ is a series of virtual sessions that address frequently asked questions about the homebuying process. This effort demonstrates that the dream of homeownership is still very much alive and attainable for people of color — even during this pandemic.”
Anyone looking for an affordable home in Virginia can visit VirginiaHousing.com to take advantage of programs designed to help make homeownership a reality.