Delisa Burnell-Smith, Vice President & COO

A dream that many of us have is homeownership. Being a homeowner adds a sense of pride, financial success, equity building, long-term savings, and a strong credit history. And the overall result leads to generational wealth. This means that wealth gained through homeownership is passed down to generations to come. Well, this hasn’t been the case for blacks, as many of them face racial inequities at the homeownership level, including lower incomes, lower housing affordability, lack of down payment and closing cost assistance, lack of access to credit, poor credit history and high debt among other challenges. In 1968, the Fair Housing Act was passed, which prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Although this Act was passed, discrimination still exists.

Based on mortgage origination data for January 2022, shows that the homeownership gap between black and white Americans is currently the widest it has been in 100 years. The U.S. Census data shows that 74% of White families own their own home in Texas, compared to 44% of Black families, and 58% of Hispanic families based on the Urban Institute. The overall homeownership rate in Texas is 62% and 64% nationally according to the U.S. Census Data.

Now, let’s look at the data in Waco, our core service area. The overall homeownership rate in Waco is 62%. The white homeownership rate is 67%, the Hispanic homeownership rate is 56% and the black homeownership rate is 42%. There is a 25% gap in the homeownership rate between blacks and whites.

Based on information released by the National Association of Realtors, the homeownership rate gap between white and black households grew even further in 2020. As 2020 was one of the best years for the housing market, the U.S. homeownership rate climbed to 65.5%, up 1.3% from 2019. Although the homeownership rate for Black Americans also increased to 43.3%, it is still lower than a decade ago. Conversely, White Americans (72.1%), Asian Americans (61.7%), and Hispanic Americans (51.1%) all achieved decadelong highs in homeownership in 2020, with the rate for Hispanic Americans setting a record and reaching above 50% for the first time.

Source: National Association of Realtors®

For NeighborWorks Waco, it’s important that we make every attempt to address this matter from every approach. But what can we do now, as an organization, to reduce this gap?

  • We can continue to ensure that our internal policies are equitable and inclusive.
  • Continue to explore innovative ideas in the development of affordable housing throughout our service areas and implement them.
  • Continue to invest in distressed communities.
  • Explore and implement special mortgage lending programs.
  • Provide resources to families that are dealing with non-updated titles.
  • Provide orientation on housing programs and services in largely populated minority communities.
  • Continue to work with local banks to create more credit-building programs.
  • Create a greater awareness of financial freedom programs and homeownership promotional programs.
  • Seek more down-payment and closing-cost assistance funding.

Closing this gap means the minority population will have an equal opportunity when it comes to homeownership and building wealth for generations to come. Removing this structural barrier can evolve into the removal of many other systemic barriers that were designed to keep minority communities oppressed. NeighborWorks Waco realizes it’s not only a local matter, but it’s also national. The organization will be committed to impacting the lives of many as they address this particular barrier.

Delisa Burnell-Smith

Vice-President and COO