Three Leaders Paving the Way for Equitable Homeownership

Did you know the gap in the Black-White homeownership rate is the largest it’s been in decades? Only 44% of Black Americans own a home, compared to the 72.7% of White Americans. Homeownership is the foundation of strong communities and one of the best ways to build wealth in America – everyone should have the opportunity to reap these benefits.

It takes an all hands-on-deck approach to break down the barriers that minority home buyers face today. That’s why The Alliance is working to unite industry leaders and grassroots advocates to advance pro-housing solutions that will improve equitable access to homeownership and help close the Black-White homeownership gap.

During Black History Month, we’re highlighting three influential leaders who are taking action across the public and private sector to tackle the challenges black home buyers face and unlock more opportunities to build wealth through homeownership.

Ashley Bell, Founder & CEO of Ready Life

As the CEO and founder of the Black-owned fintech startup, Ready Life, Ashley Bell uses his legal and financial expertise to revolutionize the home buying experience for Black Americans. Bell emphasizes the importance of providing first-time and minority home buyers with financial education resources to help these individuals successfully enter the housing market, advocating for a new path to homeownership that doesn’t rely on traditional credit scores for mortgage approvals.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the mortgage denial rate for Black applicants was 16.4%, almost three times the denial rate for White and non-Hispanic applicants. Bell is addressing this disparity by advancing a non-traditional credit model to improve the likelihood of mortgage approval for Black buyers, who face higher denial rates.

“Credit is like water. Where credit flows, things grow, opportunity grows. Where credit doesn’t grow, things don’t. For me, it’s about those deserts—the communities, the people that don’t have access to that opportunity, to that water.” – Ashley Bell, CEO and Founder of Ready Life

LaRese Purnell, Founder & Managing Partner of CLE Consulting

LaRese Purnell also understands that the path to homeownership is riddled with roadblocks for minority groups. As an innovative and strategic leader, Purnell is committed to teaching financial literacy and the importance of homeownership for building generational wealth. With 19 years of experience in business management, taxes and finance at large corporations and nonprofit organizations, Purnell uses his knowledge and experience to empower Americans with the financial tools to build and maintain wealth.

Purnell’s book “Financial Foundations,” addresses fundamental financial questions and takes a conversational approach to help individuals establish the network and tools they need to build wealth and achieve financial freedom. Purnell also offers financial literacy courses and shares his knowledge at events across the country. The Alliance has been proud to partner with Purnell to host events across the country that connect buyers with financial education resources to set them on the path to build wealth through homeownership.

Marcia Fudge, Secretary for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Secretary Marcia Fudge has spearheaded several initiatives under the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to remove barriers to homeownership and promote equity in housing.

Secretary Fudge worked with the Federal Housing Agency recently to update its policy on student loan payment calculations—which previously disproportionately impacted those of color—to provide more access to single-family FHA-insured mortgage financing for creditworthy individuals with loan debt. In an effort to expand credit availability, Secretary Fudge has also advocated for alternate credit modeling to improve access to homeownership for all.

HUD’s fiscal year 2022 budget included $100 million for Secretary Fudge’s FirstHOME Homebuyer Assistance initiative, which provides funding to expand homeownership opportunities for households of color by increasing the production of affordable housing nationwide.

Secretary Fudge also assisted in launching the first interagency task force dedicated to ending bias in the home valuation process. The Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity (PAVE)—made up of a team from 13 federal agencies—created an action plan that examines the forms of bias that exist in residential property valuation practices and provides a blueprint for government and industry stakeholders to advance equity through concrete actions.

The Alliance was proud to welcome Secretary Fudge’s Chief of Staff, Julienne Joseph, to our recent event in Cleveland, where we joined housing advocates for a conversation on the benefits of homeownership for unlocking generational wealth.

Become An Advocate for Equitable Homeownership

As an organization committed to expanding access to homeownership, The American Property Owner’s Alliance works to promote equity in homeownership through grassroots advocacy and resources that support first-time buyers. During this pivotal election year, we welcome you to join or efforts to advance pro-housing solutions that address key issues, from support for first-time buyers to expanding America’s affordable housing stock. Together, we can create a strong voice for policymakers to hear and expand critical programs and initiatives that will allow more Americans to build wealth through homeownership.

Follow us on Twitter (X), Facebook and LinkedIn to learn more about our priorities and stay informed on the latest in housing throughout the year.

About the American Property Owners Alliance
The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
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