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Increasing Diversity in Home Ownership

The rate of home ownership by African Americans has been on the decline. (V. Carter)
The rate of home ownership by African Americans has been on the decline. (V. Carter)
April 17, 2017

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Since 2004, home ownership rates for African Americans have been on the decline in Maryland and across the country.

Several groups have teamed up to try to reverse that trend - including the NAACP, the National Urban League, and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers. Ron Cooper, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, said the Fair Housing Act of 1968 enabled more people to be able to purchase real estate. And in the decades since then, home ownership for people of color has increased to 46 percent.

"It has declined now to 41 percent, which is very dangerous,” Cooper said. "So we're on the campaign as an advocacy organization, raising the alarm to how important it is in building communities and building wealth."

Maryland has one of the lower rates of disparity in ownership, with 68 percent of whites and 58 percent of African Americans owning their own homes.

This year, Wells Fargo committed to working to reverse the downward trend in home ownership. The group's executive vice president and head of housing policy and home ownership Brad Blackwell said he blames the decline on a number of factors, including stagnant wages in the middle class, a decline in access to credit and a lack of generational wealth.

"It will cause people to invest in not only their home, and take pride in that home, but take pride in their community,” Blackwell said of home ownership. "It makes for better schools. It makes for better economics for the larger community. It is a really good thing."

Cooper said people of color have a much harder time getting a loan. He said the reason the National Association of Real Estate Brokers was originally formed was because African American soldiers weren't being given equal opportunities for Veterans Association loans when they returned from World War II.

"Historically, there has been an issue in terms of race and in terms of mortgage access,” Cooper said. “And we're still, at this point, discussing where's that level of disparity at?"

Cooper said renting puts families further behind. And he adds that about 60 percent of renters spend close to a third of their income on rent.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD