As National Homeownership Month draws to a close, an examination of minority homeownership

Courtesy of NeighborWorks America

National Homeownership Month, observed annually in June, is a vivid reminder of how owning a home helps keep communities strong, create generational wealth and boost the U.S. economy. But the occasion is also a chance to acknowledge that for minority communities, the terrain toward homeownership can be rough.

The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2018 fourth quarter data shows white homeownership at 73.6 percent, Asian Pacific Islander at 58.1 percent and Hispanic and black homeownership at 46.9 percent and 42.9 percent, respectively.

For multiple, complex reasons, minority homeownership has lagged behind white homeownership for decades. In greater numbers than their white prospective homebuyer counterparts, black and Hispanic prospective homebuyers must overcome the obstacle of lower incomes, higher student debt and difficulty getting mortgages approved.

Low- and moderate-income minority families also do not have access to generational wealth. Don Nash, director of lending for Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, points to a report from Brandeis University’s Institute on Assets and Social Policy that shows white families were nearly five times more likely to be the beneficiaries of an inheritance than black families. Of the families who did pass money down, white families passed down 10 times more than black families.

“[Because] of historical wealth disparities, white families typically purchase homes and begin acquiring equity an average of eight years earlier than minority families,” Nash says. “[White families] also often obtain mortgages with a lower interest rate given their ability to purchase homes with a larger down payment.”

Still, there is some positive news.

The 2019 NeighborWorks America survey found that two in three minority respondents would be “at least somewhat interested” in a service that would help them achieve their financial goals. That compares to one out of two Americans nationwide.

A Latinx family sits in front of their new home in New MexicoThe survey also revealed that black and Hispanic prospective homebuyers are more likely to express interest in financial planning courses, to be aware of down payment assistance programs and more likely than the general population to ask for help to acquire and use credit properly. They are also more likely to seek information about the homeownership process — from housing counselors and community groups, in particular.

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