When I think about the 2021 Black History Month Theme of the Black Family, homeownership is something that comes to mind. Access to homeownership and the ability to build wealth hasn’t always been easy to attain for Black families or even Black people (and still isn’t unfortunately). In 1968, The Fair Housing Act was passed to open up opportunities for Blacks to become homeowners by making it illegal to discriminate against any person from buying based on race, and other protected classes. According to an August 2020 CNBC article, “prior to the pandemic, Black homeownership hit a record low of 40.6% in the second quarter of 2019. Though that figure increased to 47% for the second quarter of 2020, data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that Black Americans still have the lowest rate of homeownership compared to other racial groups, with White Americans having a homeownership rate of 76%, Hispanic Americans having a homeownership rate of 51.4% and Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders having a homeownership rate of 61.4%.” When I look at the 2017 Policy Link Equity Report of Long Island, paired with 2019 Newsday’s Long Island Divided report, there is a very clear picture there is more work to be done. Furthermore, looking at the The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), enacted in 1977, requires the Federal Reserve and other federal banking regulators to encourage financial institutions to help meet the credit needs of the communities in which they do business, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods. Race is an issue, Income is an issue, Access is an issue. That being said, I decided to delve into my family’s perspective on homeownership and what “access” has afforded them to do (and feel).
I was fortunate enough to purchase a home at the age of 25 in Georgia. I had been paying about $800 a month in rent and realized that I could make an investment in my future by pursuing homeownership. I remember being so excited throughout the process. I was guided through the entire process by a family member who worked at a Real Estate office. I had a Black Realtor and Black Mortgage Broker that I trusted. Each time I visited prospective homes I felt like I was getting closer to my dream. When I finally closed on my home, I felt a sense of pride. While I didn’t have a family just yet, I was following in the footsteps of my parents. I looked forward to creating lasting memories with friends and family. Despite a troubling housing market, when it was time for me to pursue graduate studies in urban planning, I found a way to grant someone else access to my home via the Housing Choice Voucher Program. I ultimately wanted another family to create lasting memories in my home as a renter turned homeowner. Unfortunately, the homeownership piece of that family’s story didn’t happen in my home; however, my memories of being a homeowner and of my home are filled with pride, love and fellowship. Today I am even more grateful for the homeownership experience.
See below what my brother and mother had to say:
“Owning a home has, and continues to be a large source of pride for me. I am blessed to have owned a home in Los Angeles, Brooklyn NYC, Mount Vernon and New Rochelle thus far. Each one came with its own unique set of circumstances, challenges and memories. The common thread, however, is my feeling of some level of accomplishment. I feel very good about the fact that with all of life’s curveballs (even pre-pandemic), I have been able to provide that solid foundation of a roof over my family’s head in a safe environment, so they have one less thing to worry about. Back when I used to leave my home to go to the office, or on a business trip, I liked knowing that as I was leaving in the dark, cold early morning hours that everyone was safe and sound, sleeping inside. Our home is our sanctuary, where we can all be ourselves, laugh and cry together – in addition to (during better times) spreading love with our broader family. I am grateful to be able to help provide this for all of us.” C. Hill, married father of 2
“We lived in an apartment when I was very young and when we moved to Philadelphia we had a row house and then the second house was in the Germantown suburb, larger. The majority of my childhood I lived in a home so home ownership was something I felt was attainable. When my husband and I married we knew we would become home owners once we started a family. Since both of us grew up in families that owned homes it was important that we would raise our children in one. After being married for seven years we had saved enough to purchase our first home. It was a wonderful day!” K. Hill, widowed mother of 3
I believe that everyone, regardless of race or zip code should have fair and equitable access to homeownership. The fight for increasing access and opportunities to Black families (and others) continues. You can use your voice before 11:59pm February 16th by joining us and submitting a comment about The Federal Reserve Board (Fed) Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA). The ANPR’s proposals improve upon the current CRA exam structure in contrast to the Office of the Comptroller’s final rule, which dramatically weakens CRA. To learn more about the Community Reinvestment ACT (CRA) and our work around this topic, CLICK HERE. Directions on submitting your comment can be found here: https://bit.ly/3ppcGA4.