City hopes to boost Black home ownership with support of national accelerator - Albuquerque Journal

City hopes to boost Black home ownership with support of national accelerator

Roughly 16% of Albuquerque Black renters can qualify for homeownership. The median renter income for a Black city resident is $37,500, one of the lowest among racial categories included in a presentation from the city of Albuquerque’s Office of Equity and Inclusion. And, under current projections, about 2,289 Black homeowners are expected to be added through 2040.

But the city is trying to improve that and, through a new partnership with an accelerator comprising national organizations, the plan is to bring homeownership to 41 Black prospective homebuyers this year.

“For years, we’ve been left out of financial empowerment,” Nichole Rogers, a liaison with the city’s Office of Black Community Engagement, said. “In this country the cornerstone to building wealth (is homeownership). … In a lot of our communities, especially in the Black community, (there’s) generations of people who don’t own homes.”

The OBCE, an arm of the city’s Office of Equity and Inclusion, was chosen recently for the Opportunity Accelerator. The OA is made up of a group of national organizations, including Results for America, Code for America, Harvard Kennedy School Government Performance Lab, Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, and the W. Haywood Burns Institute.

The Opportunity Accelerator, and, by extension, those supporting organizations, has a focus on promoting economic mobility and decreasing racial disparities.

And, through the city’s partnership with the accelerator, which is still in its early stages, the goal is to have a multipronged approach to increasing Black homeownership, Rogers said.

That includes educating prospective Black homebuyers, putting them in touch with financial advisers, weighing barriers for homeownership, creating a plan — which includes setting them up with credit repair and mortgage specialists — and matching them with a real estate agent “that looks like them,” Rogers said. Later down the line, the goal would be to get funding to provide down payment assistance to Black homebuyers, Rogers said.

The opportunity accelerator’s role includes technical assistance that will, possibly, create and track plans for Black families looking to go through the homebuying process.

“To have a city lead with a Black and Indigenous strategy is incredibly innovative,” Andrea Calderón, a senior adviser with Bloomberg Center for Government Excellence at Johns Hopkins University, said. “This has the opportunity to scale across jurisdictions throughout the country and really model what it looks like to be led by community members to increase … homeownership rates.”

The move to add more Black homeowners is a priority for the city — and is a need as the homeownership gap continues to widen. A recent report from the National Association of Realtors shows that Black homeownership has increased just 0.4% over the past 10 years and is nearly 29 percentage points less than white Americans. Moreover, that disparity between white and Black homeownership represents the largest gap in a decade.

Aside from growing Black homeownership, Rogers said the goal is to create work for Black people in jobs dealing with homes because “we’ve lost about $156 billion over the last 10 years because of low home valuations.”

“Part of our initiative is going to include mentorship for our community to enter these building trades — not just framers and carpenters and electricians, but also architects and appraisers,” Rogers said.

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