Housing America, Part Two: Closing the Homeownership Gap with NAREB, the Urban Institute, National Association of Realtors (NAR), The National Council of State Housing Agencies, Local Public Housing Agencies and Neighborhood Housing Organizations

A family moving

The gap in homeownership rates between Black and White Americans grew to over 30% last year — which is higher than what it was in 1960, when racial discrimination in housing was legal.

The fact that the Black homeownership gap has persisted since the passing of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which outlawed housing discrimination is evidence of how much more needs to be done to address the issue. “Fair housing by itself just will not do it. Equal’s not equal if I give you a 300-year head start,” says Mark Alston, public affairs committee chair of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB.)

This gap was created and is maintained by a history of racial injustice specifically targeting Black communities. It has been driven by and has exacerbated inequalities in wealth, income, and access to credit, among other things. To add to the challenges facing potential Black homeowners, COVID-19 has disproportionately affected Black communities.

The Urban Institute is working with cities in a dozen states and the District of Columbia on strategies to bring Black homeownership back up. Among them are financial assistance to Black homebuyers to help them cover down payments and closing costs, and support for current homeowners facing foreclosure.

The gap between White and Black homeownership rates is wider now than it was in 1960, when housing discrimination was rampant and legal, U.S. Census Bureau data shows. In 2022, 74.6% of White households owned their homes, compared with 45.3% of Black households — a gap of more than twenty-nine points. In 1960, the White homeownership rate was 65%, and the Black rate was 38%, a 27-point gap.

Some of the pandemic’s impact may be felt by these communities for years to come. “African Americans and minorities have lost their jobs at greater rates during COVID, so the idea of purchasing a home is probably being pushed even longer off,” says Dr. Jessica Lautz, vice president of demographics and behavioral insights at the National Association of Realtors (NAR).

The National Council of State Housing Agencies (NCSHA) is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan organization created by the nation’s state HFAs (housing finance agencies) to meet their affordable homeownership and rental housing needs,
especially the affordable housing challenges faced by underserved households and communities. In their efforts to provide affordable housing to those who need it, HFAs implement advocacy and education.

NCSHA’s priorities for 2022 were to:

  • Expand the supply and preservation of affordable for-sale and rental homes for low- and moderate-income households.
  • Expand access, affordability, and financial sustainability in housing for households and communities of color and others disproportionately harmed
    by disasters, discrimination, and disinvestment; and
  • Strengthen the capacity of state HFAs to serve as the center of the nation’s affordable housing finance system more efficiently and effectively.

Public Housing Authorities (PHAs) working with their respective jurisdictions and local groups have tuned their efforts over years to identify and support local efforts in working with neighborhoods for affordable housing. While not always thought of, affordable rental development/programs lend mighty to the next step in the
housing circle: homeownership.

The Denver Housing Authority (DHA), for example, delivers for Denver (“D3”) Program is a partnership and intergovernmental agreement (IGA) between the City and County of Denver and DHA. In 2019, DHA issued a $130 million municipal bond backed by city property tax allocations that generated $120 million in revenue. The purpose of the D3 Program is to expedite a pipeline of affordable housing projects and to accomplish the goals of Denver’s Five-Year Housing Plan.

Further, DHA entered D3 to support the City in its policy goals. DHA’s development directly aligns with the vision of the City’s Five-Year Housing Plan. Federal agencies aim to boost the supply of quality, affordable rental units by working with state and local governments. DHA’s organizational goals are in direct alignment with this effort.

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