Black homeownership program celebrates 2nd anniversary in Memphis

Published: May. 31, 2023 at 11:59 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The American Dream of homeownership is still far out of reach for many Black Americans. In Memphis, a city where 64% of the population is Black, the homeownership rate for Black families is 44% according to the U.S. Census Bureau. For white families, it’s 74%.

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 was designed to end discrimination in selling, renting, or financing a house. But 55 years later, Black homeownership rates remain the lowest of all other racial groups in this country. A nationwide program designed to change that statistic celebrated its second anniversary in Memphis this week.

During the Black Homeownership Collaborative summit at the National Civil Rights Museum on Wednesday, 23-year-old Nicholas Whiteside stood out as the face of success.

“Because I am an individual that lives exactly what they’re talking about,” Whiteside told Action News 5, “they want me to be an example to other individuals to know that they can do the exact same thing.”

Whiteside became a homeowner last year after graduating from Fisk University, buying a house near where he grew up in Whitehaven.

“I learned that it’s a reach one, teach one environment,” said Whiteside. He’s eager to share his path to homeownership with others, leading by example. He was one of the participants acknowledging the anniversary of the Black Homeownership Collaborative’s 3by30 initiative.

Kicked off in 2021, the goal is to get three million Black Americans into their own homes by 2030.” After two years, we’ve managed to help bring the homeownership rate for Black Americans from 42%, which is where it was in 1968, which is really embarrassing, up to 44%,” said David Dworkin, President and CEO of the National Housing Conference. “We still have a long way to go, but it’s an important start.” The Collaborative is a coalition of more than 100 organizations including bankers, realtors, and civil rights leaders who believe financial counseling and down payment assistance are two of the crucial tools in expanding Black homeownership.

In Memphis, affordable housing is scarce. But Bluff City does have its benefits.

“One thing: we have a lot of land,” said Roshun Austin, the President and CEO of The Works Inc., “We have a relatively low cost of living and with such a significant Black population, it’s important we focus on increasing opportunities.”

Whiteside, who watched his mother fall victim to predatory mortgage lending in 2008, is now much wiser about the loan process, and he’s ready to share that wisdom with others.

“My motivation really comes off of that, helping other people and showing them that you can do it, too,” he said, “showing them that homeownership is not the path of the extraordinary, it’s the path of the everyday person.”

Whiteside completed FreddieMac’s CreditSmart Essentials and Homebuyers U courses which are free online to prepare you for homeownership. For more information click here.

And click here to learn more about the 3by30 initiative.

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