African American home-ownership rates decline, study says

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By Glenn Townes

According to a recent report released by the National Association of Realtors (NAR) in Washington, the gap in home ownership rates between African Americans and Whites is at the highest in more than half a century. Add to the mix that one in six people living in poverty—the larger issue of homelessness becomes more prevalent and pervasive.

“In 2020, there is still a persistent gap in home ownership rates between whites, African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans,” said Bryan Greene, NAR's Director of Fair Housing Policy. “You might expect there to be a lower home ownership rate among minority Americans, as a history of discrimination in this country has left many with lower incomes...and less generational wealth to pass on.”

According to the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, white home ownership rates of about 74 percent significantly exceed the 44 percent.  The fact that home-ownership rates for African Americans have decreased in spite of the advent of fair housing laws make it clear that various institutional challenges still must be faced and defeated,” said NAR President Vince Malta.

In New Jersey, initiatives designed to foster home-ownership and avoid an uncertain housing future, has been a priority under the administration of Gov. Phil Murphy. For example, in the municipality of Princeton—an upscale community just outside of the capital city of Trenton---a range of substantive housing opportunities are available to area residents, said Edward Truscelli, executive director of Princeton Community Housing (PCH). Among other things, the agency assists area residents secure affordable and transitional housing.  To that end, Truscelli said while the terms affordable housing and transitional housing are often used interchangeably, there is a marked difference between the two.  “Transitional housing is usually for available for households facing a crisis and immediate homelessness and lasts for about 12 to 24 months,” he said.  Truscelli added that affordable housing is the rental or for sale housing for low or income sensitive household is the rental or for sale housing. In Trenton, the Roebling Lofts/Roebling Center complex---an on-going and multi-million dollar housing development project with about 138 apartments—is among the states most high profile affordable housing project initiatives.  A commonly used local and state government mandated support system for families and individuals facing a housing crisis is the asset limited, income constrained and employed (ALICE) program. Under program guidelines,  no more than 30% of household income should be spent on housing. Households that spend more than one third of family income on housing expenses, are cost burdened and lack available necessary funds for basic necessities like food, medical, transportation and clothing.

Finally, in a related matter, Cherry Hill, NJ- based TD Bank, announced earlier this month that it  will provide more than $35.3 million in financing to construct a 63-unit residential building and community center—Dayspring Commons  in Yonkers, New York. The building will include at 37 units for formerly homeless and special needs households.  “Dayspring Commons will bring affordable housing and supportive services to formerly homeless families and individuals in Westchester County,” said Phyllis Reich, vice president at TD Bank Community Group. “The resources provided will help integrate these residents into the community successfully.” To find out more about the National Association of Realtors racial homeowners study about racial home ownership gap, visit the organization's web site at www.nar.com.

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