(BPT) - Home and property ownership is a nearly universal part of the American dream. An unfortunate reality of our nation’s past and present, however, is that this dream has been much more difficult to achieve among minority groups.
April marks the 53rd anniversary of the passage of the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act, the federal law that protects Americans against housing and property ownership discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. But despite all the progress this nation has made over recent decades, people searching for a home today face many of the same challenges they did 53 years ago. Home and property ownership rates for Black Americans are nearly 30 percentage points lower than that of white Americans, and after decades of gain, the Black homeownership rate has now fallen back to where it was a half-century ago.
“During this time, we honor the sacrifices and tenacity shown by so many during the fight to expand equal access to housing and property in America,” said National Association of Realtors® President Charlie Oppler. “As the largest trade association in the world, NAR has a powerful voice, and we will continue to use that voice to champion efforts to build more inclusive communities throughout our nation.”
Home and property ownership are one of the keys to long-term wealth and financial stability, but racial disparities in homeownership still exist. According to NAR's Snapshot of Race & Home Buying in America report, home and property ownership rates among Asian, (60.7%), Hispanic (48.1%) and Black Americans (42%) significantly lag behind the 69.8% homeownership among White Americans.
“This data reflects our country’s continued struggle with structural and implicit bias, which continue to adversely affect Black, Hispanic and Asian Americans in their ability to achieve the American dream of homeownership,” said Bryan Greene, Vice President of Policy and Advocacy for NAR. “Homeowners’ net worth is 44 times greater than renters,’ and home and property ownership is still the best way for the majority of Americans to build wealth. That’s why Realtors® are committed to expanding equal access to housing for all.”
From implementing anti-discrimination trainings to developing a plan for Realtors® to proactively uncover and address fair housing problems to addressing the importance of credit scoring accurately capturing someone’s credit worthiness, NAR is committed to supporting fair housing and property ownership rights during Fair Housing Month and throughout the year. To support NAR in combatting discrimination and addressing these home and property ownership gaps in your own community, below are a few ways to take action.
Ask your representative to support policies that help first-time home buyers
Hispanic and Black Americans are two and three times more likely, respectively, than white and Asian Americans to tap into their 401(k) or pension funds in order to compile the funds necessary for a down payment — a path that can negatively affect long-term prosperity. Simply calling, emailing or writing a letter to your representatives to ask them to support policy proposals like the Biden administration's first-time buyer tax credit would offer a significant opportunity to help address many of these underlying barriers to homeownership among minority groups and first-time homebuyers.
Get involved in a fair housing organization in your community
Fair housing organizations work in communities across the country, as well as at the state and national levels, to educate the public about fair housing, investigate claims of discrimination, and push for policies that promote housing rights. They work in partnership with governments and private housing providers to promote best practices to prevent discrimination and foster diverse, inclusive communities. Find a fair housing organization in your area online.
Read, watch and listen to learn more about fair housing
To better understand fair housing, how America became so divided and the ramifications of living in a segregated society, check out NAR's collections of books, videos and podcasts. You can also learn more about equal opportunity housing and the rights and responsibilities home buyers and sellers have online.
Learn more about NAR's fair housing initiatives by visiting https://www.nar.realtor/fair-housing.