By now we all know that the recession has hit blacks hard. Black unemployment outnumbers white unemployment by leaps and bounds, and Black poverty is on the rise. We also know that one of the factors that led to our most recent recession was the mortgage crisis, brought on in part by the fact that banks were giving lots of predatory loans to African-Americans. Couple the poverty with the toxic mortgages, and it’s no surprise that Black families in communities around the country have lost their homes in this terrible financial climate. Today we get a look at how bad it’s gotten: Black homeownership is now at less than 45 percent, while in some places, like Minnesota, it’s fallen to 25 percent. Compare that to white homeownership, which, though lower than it used to be, is still at 66 percent.
This matters for a couple reasons, the first of which that homeownership is the foundation of the American dream for many people in the United States. The ability to come back to a place that’s yours, however humble, is something that many people dream of for decades. It instills pride in mothers and fathers and a sense of stability in children.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, is that homeownership is a path toward financial stability just as much as it’s a path to domestic stability. Owning a home means you can leverage its equity to have a second mortgage if you need one. You can also use a home to establish a simple home equity loan and gain another line of credit. Either way you go about it, a home can be a valuable resource in getting more money to, say, open a small business and earn more money.
Beyond all that, owning a home in a city in which you have roots is a valuable way to build a community. It’s nice to know your neighbors, to hang out in their backyard and invite them to your barbecues. The value of having your own personal palace isn’t only in its worth or what it says about your worth; it’s also in the ability to really build a lasting relationship with the people around you. And we don’t just need that in the Black community. We need that in every community.
(Photo: Matthew Staver/Landov)
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