NonProfit Tackles Homeownership
By Dianne Anderson
Nothing quite raises the blood pressure like sinking under bad credit problems, or having to come up with tens of thousands of dollars to get through the homebuyer process.
Or, probably worst of all, losing a home to imminent foreclosure.
With that in mind, National Investment Division – Housing Counseling Agency San Bernardino/Riverside Counties is hosting local outreach events to help the community stay calm while learning to take care of business.
While they wait, they can also get their blood pressure checked.
Alvin Toney, NID branch manager, said their events offer a stress-free way for the community to stay on top of their personal finances.
“We have a certified nurse that will be there,” said Toney. “They’ll check for high blood pressure, and also check diabetes.”
The events will connect the community with professionals for help in several important areas. The housing counseling agency, backed by HUD, will host vendors, health professionals, and a wealth of information, as well as lenders on site.
On Saturday, July 13, one event will be held at 23945 Sunnymead Blvd. in Moreno Valley, which runs from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
On Saturday, July 20, they are also hosting a full day of resources at New Hope Family Life Center, located at 1505 West Highland Avenue San Bernardino, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00p.m. They will have refreshments, games, raffles, and face painting for the kids.
Among the many personal finance and homebuyer topics covered, they will discuss wills and trusts, credit and budgeting, the escrow process, and how to understand loans. Some may also find money to purchase a home that they didn’t know existed.
Foreclosure prevention solutions will be available. Toney said the NID has saved many homes this year, and some banks are willing to help the community.
“We’re trying to get the word out that there is help,” he said. “You don’t have to give up your home. In the African American community [property] is the number one of source of generating wealth.”
About ten years ago, the massive foreclosure crisis hit Black and Brown homeowners the hardest, locking them into high priced subprime loans, although studies showed many qualified for prime loans.
This time around, he feels unemployment is negatively impacting Black and Brown communities. Even at historic lows, he said unemployment still runs twice as high among African Americans as whites.
These days, homeownership among African Americans is now scraping the lowest rate in decades, lower than Latinos or whites.
Last week, Kamala Harris unveiled her proposal to put $100 billion toward getting more support for Black homeownership that could come down in the form of grants to help close the widest racial gap since real estate discrimination was legal during the 1970s.
The loss of African American wealth in homeownership has devastated the community, and he sees foreclosure activity starting up again. Mostly, he feels it’s because of job loss, too much credit card debt and car debt that is causing a ripple effect.
He said more Black and Brown people are losing jobs, and getting replaced.
“[They’re] trying to find another job quickly, but it’s taking a few months to find a job that was paying them what they earned before,” he said.
At the other end of the problem are those who could qualify for homes, but may not know there is something as affordable, or more affordable than renting.
Toney, a longtime real estate broker, said there is some preparation involved in saving and buying a home. It can be tedious, but it’s no different than what’s required in taking care of everyday personal finance business.
“You want to know where your money is going, you want to know if anyone is on your credit that is not supposed to be there,” he said. “You need to know these things anyway.”
Downpayment assistance programs help first-time buyers access the equivalent of many thousands of dollars in savings. Silent Seconds are also available, usually at the county or city level. It can shave tens of thousands of dollars off a property through grants that don’t have to be paid until the owner sells, or refinances. Some loans don’t have to be paid back at all.
He said it’s really a win-win equity situation.
“Most people don’t even know they exist,” he said. “That’s the strangest part about this whole thing.”
He recalls how he built up personal wealth when years ago when he first bought a small 640 square foot home in San Diego. He paid $69,500, but later sold it for $299,000 at the height of that market.
These days, it’s very hard for anyone in the Black community to save that kind of money, he said, adding that many people can qualify for a home, but may not realize it.
“If they are paying $1,800 to 2,200 a month, they can afford a home,” he said.
Credit also can’t be ignored, but some people feel that their credit is beyond repair, when all it takes is the effort to correct it.
“We’ve seen people’s points [FICA] jump 60 points in four months, and made them home-buyer ready,” he said.
Recent trends show that African Americans are still dealing with the aftermath of home losses from a decade ago.
The Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University 2018 report found that the median wealth of white households in 2016 was ten times higher than that of black households. By 2017, black households were at 43.1 percent homeownership, which is at 2.7 percent below 1987 levels, and 6.6 percent lower than the mid-2000s peak.
“Compared with 1994, black homeownership rates have increased just 0.3 percentage point while white rates have risen 2.2 percentage points, widening the black-white gap to 29.2 percentage points. This disparity is even more troubling given that the gap was 23.5 percentage points in 1983, when the black homeownership rate was 2.6 percentage points higher than today,” the report states.
For more information, contact Toney at 951-399-4538, or firstname.lastname@example.org