U report examines home ownership among minorities

by Benjamin Ganje

Up to 73 percent of white families owned their homes as opposed to 17 percent of families of color, according to the 1990 U.S. Census. This disparity prompted a recently issued report by the University’s Roy Wilkins Center.
The report, named “A Dream Deferred” after the Langston Hughes poem, proposes a new plan to raise home-ownership rates within local communities of color.
Based on a two-year study conducted by the Wilkins Center and The Urban Coalition, the report is part of the ongoing 50/30 project.
Within 12 years, the project attempts to raise home ownership so that 50 percent of 30-year-old minorities own their own homes, hence the name 50/30.
The project measures current home-ownership trends in communities of color, said Yusef Mgeni, president of The Urban Coalition, a nonprofit group advocating for low-income communities.
The report suggests seven areas where improvement is needed to increase minority home-ownership rates.
The recommendations include creating a system to gauge the progress of the project and providing public- and private-sector financial assistance to allow low-income renters to become home owners.
“We looked for ways to increase home ownership and, frankly, wealth creation,” Mgeni said.
Researchers want people in communities of color to feel comfortable with the entire real estate process, Mgeni said.
“People don’t feel respected buying houses,” Mgeni said. To ensure equality, the 50/30 project proposes more stringent fair-housing legislation and increased regulation of lenders.
Educating potential home buyers is vital to the success of the project.
“There has to be extensive outreach and marketing to inform people in communities of color,” Mgeni said.
The Twin Cities area is the focus of the 50/30 project, said Wilkins Center director Samuel L. Myers Jr., who jointly directed the study with Mgeni.
The study and its ultimate goals are rooted in the philosophy that owning a home improves the overall quality of life for a family, Mgeni said.
The number of people who own homes has declined over the last 20 years.
To reverse this, the 50/30 project proposes a multistep plan to raise home ownership in minority areas through work by many different groups.
“The objectives are for the coalition of lenders, bankers, state and local officials and agencies, and community organizations,” Myers said.
The report is the result of collaboration among public, private and community organizations.