The inability to save for a down payment and the lack of a proper education on home buying are just some of the major barriers that African Americans face when purchasing a house. (Photo by Fabio Balbi on Unsplash)

By Fatiha Belfakir,
Special to the AFRO

Churches are stepping up to do their part in increasing Black homeownership. 

Reverend Anthony Evans, president of the National Black Church Initiative (NCBI), recently spoke with the AFRO about his organization’s ten-year goal to support potential African Americans and provide resources as they move towards purchasing a property.

“Our program is trying to get Black ownership to 51 percent,” said Evans, of NCBI’s Black Homeownership 51 Percent Program. “That is our goal right now, given the rising nature of inflation, the rising interest rate, nonexistent housing stocks and chaos in the mortgage community.” 

Evans explained that the program provides homebuyers with the necessary education and advice to guide them and provide them with the comprehensive tools and resources necessary to purchase a home.

“We urge couples who are unable to buy homes at this moment to get second jobs, continue saving and then to apply for the state assistance program available in their city,” said Evans.

There are a number of barriers that prevent Black and Brown Americans from becoming homeowners, such as the inability to save for a down payment and closing costs due to low wages and high rental costs. 

The lack of access to credit and poor credit history, regulatory burdens imposed on the production of housing, the lack of proper education on the homebuying process and programs available. And then there’s discrimination and redlining. 

Evans told the AFRO that the crisis seen today for low and middle-income Americans is as dire as ever as rents continue to rise in a pandemic.

Evans said “the biggest lie is that ‘the states do not have money.’”

“The states are loaded with billions of unrestricted covenant money, and as you well know, they’ve been using that money for everything. We need public pressure to get these programs revitalized,” said Evans. “They are diverting those funds to those special interest groups.” 

Evans said that many of the major White developers in urban cities across the country “are destroying America the way they’re [working with] the banks, deciding who lives where and what zip code.”

Fathia Karsha, a 60-year-old communication specialist originally from Somalia, told the AFRO that she has experienced the hardship of trying to find a home in an area she liked first hand. 

Karsha embarked on her homeownership journey last year after saving enough money for down payment. After a year of diligent and arduous search in her preferred neighborhood, she decided to call off her search because she could not compete with other buyers with money and time to wage a bidding war.

“I was always shown houses with low quality in debilitated neighborhoods. Everytime I found a suitable home, other buyers would submit higher offers that exceeded my ability to purchase the house,” said Karsha. 

She also had a hard time working with lending agencies. 

“Even [with] my income qualifying me to purchase the house, the lending agency always required more stringent conditions. I must say that my experience was not pleasant, but I learned a lot about the housing market and how it operates.”

The National Black Church Initiative (NCBI) has a ten year-goal to increase Black homeownership to 51 percent. (Photo by The National Black Church Initiative on Facebook)

Erika S. Evans, a real estate agent licensed in the D.C., Maryland, and Virginia area advised buyers who are considering a house purchase to consider contacting an expert licensed real estate professional who will help the client set a plan of action in motion based on the buyer’s individual needs. 

“The agent will recommend a credit repair specialist if the buyer needs to improve their credit. In the interim, buyers should keep aggressively saving towards their down payment and closing costs,” said Evans. “A great real estate professional will provide buyers with available first-time home buyer programs and loan programs beneficial to the buyer.”

Evans is proof that the church is key in getting potential buyers in the Black community connected with the right information. 

He encourages churches across the nation to join the initiative by first learning about and advocating for local programming around homeownership.

“We’re calling [on people in] every single state in the Union to find out the status of their [state’s] program. Has it been funded? Has it increased? How [do you] apply– all of that,” he said.

Help us Continue to tell OUR Story and join the AFRO family as a member – subscribers are now members!  Join here!