Financial Education Support Can Improve Black Homeownership Rates

Thousands of Black Americans are leaving large metropolitan areas like New York City, Los Angeles and Chicago for growing communities throughout the South.

In North Carolina, about 44,250 Black residents moved to Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County in 2021, now accounting for 35.2% of Charlotte’s population and 22.3% of the entire state’s. In Georgia, the population of Black residents has nearly doubled in the past 30 years, totaling more than 3 million residents according to the 2020 census. To top that, Texas recently surpassed Georgia as having the highest number of Black residents with about 3.4 million individuals, according to Pew Research Center.

Factors such as the cost of raising children, accessibility and quality of life, coupled with the stability provided by Fortune 500 companies headquartered throughout the region, make these southern states an appealing place to live. However, one area in particular is creating challenges when relocating: the housing market.

According to the National Association of REALTORS®, the gap in the Black-White homeownership rate is the largest it’s been in decades, with only 44% of Black Americans owning a home, compared to the 72.7% of White Americans.

As the South’s popular metro areas continue to grow, housing supply can’t keep up with demand. Rising mortgage rates on top of regulatory barriers, infrastructure limitations, high costs to build, and general resistance to new construction have driven up property values and limited the availability of affordable homes.

In addition to supply constraints, other factors have disproportionate impacts on minority residents. Nationally, young Black Americans have lower credit scores than their white counterparts, making it harder to qualify for loans at affordable rates. What’s more, college debt is creating a barrier to homeownership for many: 36% of U.S. millennials say their college debt is a major obstacle to saving for a down payment.

According to the Center for Responsible Lending, for a variety of reasons, borrowers who attended historically Black colleges and universities are disproportionately burdened with debt, making it more difficult to build wealth through homeownership or invest in retirement funds.

Pursuing a college education shouldn’t come at the cost of owning a home. These are milestones that should only put Americans on the path to more wealth-building opportunities.

While there are many resources to assist homebuyers and current homeowners—including the Financial Literacy and Education Commission’s budgeting tools, the Federal Student Aid’s resource hub, and various grant programs and housing counselors—we need a more proactive approach to helping young buyers understand the role of credit in the home buying process.

As executive director of the American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance), I dedicate a great deal of time advocating for local, state and national policy solutions that remove barriers to homeownership and increase housing supply. It’s critical that our leaders prioritize resources that support Black residents long before the home buying process begins. As more individuals and families put down roots in growing areas, some may want additional support in learning how to build credit and manage debt so they can ultimately position themselves to purchase a home and build generational wealth.

They should be able to find the support they need, easily.

At The Alliance, we’re calling on Congress to support three bipartisan solutions that will aid buyers on multiple fronts and unlock more equitable access to homeownership.

First is expanding pre- and post-purchase consultation to provide buyers with more direct support at every step of the homebuying journey, from saving for a downpayment to securing homeowners insurance. Next, is implementing alternative credit modeling that’s based on your bill and rent payment history, not solely on credit scores. This way, buyers can have competitive access to mortgage loans. Lastly, developing downpayment assistance programs will help buyers secure an affordable home, and creating incentives for current owners to sell to first-time buyers will help expand the marketplace.

These efforts, combined with even more creative housing policy solutions and assistance programs, will set up all first-time homebuyers for success.

People are moving to their desired communities with hopes of upward mobility, and homeownership is a major component of that dream. By expanding financial education resources for today’s buyers and those to come, we can create a foundation for homeownership to thrive for generations.

The Alliance is working to broaden the path to homeownership by advocating for expanded financial education tools, alternate credit scoring, and more resources to set first-time buyers up for success. Sign our petition to urge Congress to prioritize expanding support for first-time homebuyers. 

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