February is Black History Month and is a time of remembrance of the accomplishments and legacies of many great black leaders in our nation’s history but is also a time for reflection as an industry on how we can carry on the work of these esteemed leaders in eliminating housing discrimination, expanding homeownership and diversity within our ranks and work toward racial equity as a nation.
1. Furthering our work on expanding Housing Opportunity for all! We support programs that work to increase homeownership among African-Americans. The National Association of REALTORS® has introduced a five-point plan to increase the number of African-American homeowners and help close the persistent gap in homeownership rates. These elements are:
*Increase access to down payment assistance: Saving for a down payment can be the biggest hurdle for renters wanting to become homeowners. In recent years, a growing number of first-time buyers received help from family members with their down payments. However, due to historical gaps in accessing and accumulating wealth, it’s much more difficult for African-Americans to obtain substantial financial assistance from family members. Therefore, increased access to federal down payment assistance based on a certain income threshold is vital, particularly for African-Americans.
*Build more homes to increase supply: The lack of housing supply makes converting from renting to owning very difficult. The lack of viable purchase options and resulting competition rapidly push up home prices, precluding some potential first-time buyers from entering the market.
*Build more homes in Opportunity Zones: NAR strongly supports Opportunity Zones as a means by which to invest in the revitalization of economically-distressed areas.
*Strengthen FHA’s loan program: FHA loans have been an important source of financing for first-time buyers and minority households. Shifting federal dollars to strengthen the FHA program could lower mortgage insurance premiums and monthly mortgage payments.
*Expand alternative credit scoring models: Expanding credit scoring models to include rent and utilities payments – and thereby adding more positive payment histories to better demonstrate financial responsibility – can help increase homeownership opportunities for minority and first-time buyers.
2. REALTORS® recognize the significance of the Fair Housing Act and reconfirm their commitment to upholding fair housing law as well as their commitment to offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property.
No one understands housing better than REALTORS® and each shall remain stewards in assisting Americans in their right to own, use and transfer private property. CCAR works to ensure REALTORS® are active leaders in our community in our mission to end housing bias and discrimination and support programs that help to increase housing opportunity. Through education on the local, state and national level we support the NAR Fair Housing Action Plan, abbreviated ‘ACT’ that emphasizes (A)ccountability, (C)ulture Change and (T)raining in order to ensure America’s 1.4 million REALTORS® are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America.
3.Mentoring Minority Agents – In our pursuit of encouraging more African Americans to join the ranks as real estate professionals, we support mentoring programs that encourage diversity among our membership. The new Black Real Estate Agent program recently launched by the National Association of Real Estate Brokers and HomeLight is one such program to provide financial, educational and career support for aspiring black real estate agents. The new program will pay up to $5,000 of the onboarding costs for new black real estate and provide them with individual mentors. The program is designed to boost the number of black real estate professionals (currently 6 percent). The NAREB is seeking applicants in the United States who are between the ages of 18 and 35 and are interested in a career in real estate but not currently established as an agent, willing to work with a NAREB brokers during their first year in real estate.
“As REALTORS® on the frontline of homeownership, we continue our fight to increase homeownership rates among African Americans and support programs that work to promote that effort in reducing barriers as every American deserves the right to own a home,” said Liz McDonald, president of the Champaign County Association of REALTORS®. “It is our collective responsibility to support solutions that end discrimination and promote the mainstay of fair housing within our community to expand black homeownership during this and every month.”
4) Five Ways to Celebrate Black History Month – We encourage you to read the Illinois REALTORS® article to enhance your celebration and enrich your February in celebrating Black History Month.
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The Champaign County Association of REALTORS® is the "Voice for Real Estate" in the Champaign County area of Illinois, whose over 400 members are engaged in all facets of the real estate industry. CCAR was chartered in 1917.
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