The racial homeownership gap is as large today as it was during the days of segregation, with the white homeownership rate roughly 30 points higher than it is for Black households. Without intentional, collective action, a recent Urban Institute analysis shows that the gap may continue to grow.

Safe, affordable housing is a key pillar of the American Dream, bringing financial opportunity for consumers and stability for communities nationwide. Unfortunately, the benefits of homeownership are not currently equitable. As the only Black woman leading a national mortgage company, this problem is personal.

Against this backdrop, I’m eager to work with all housing stakeholders — policymakers, community activists, advocates, and other corporate leaders — to close the racial homeownership gap.

In October at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s Annual Convention & Expo 2021, I announced the Home for All Pledge, a commitment we are asking companies to sign to promote affordable rental housing, minority homeownership, and company diversity, equity, and inclusion. This is our opportunity to commit, take action, and make substantial progress as an industry towards sustainable minority homeownership.

I am passionate about growing minority homeownership and providing access for those shut out of the American dream. I joined Wells Fargo in part to share this passion, highlight the inequity present over the years, and drive progress.

Lenders can open doors to homeownership for more minorities by incorporating low-down payment financing options; closing cost credits; down-payment assistance; diverse, in-market sales teams ready to provide access and support; and more. Wells Fargo committed to lend $60 billion to qualified Black homebuyers in 2017 — a pledge that has helped nearly 82,000 African Americans become homeowners. A commitment in support of Hispanic homeownership — which has helped create 207,000 homeowners to date — is also in place. Each program is supported by extensive investment in financial education and ongoing efforts to diversify the workforce. Wells Fargo is also investing $50 million in Minority Depository Institutions, with our latest investments announced last year.

In addition to leading Home Lending at Wells Fargo, I am the chair of the MBA board of directors and the leader of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency’s Project REACh affordable homeownership working group. Occupying these three roles at the same time provides me a unique vantage point to the great work that’s happening throughout the industry and the momentum that’s being created as the entire housing ecosystem works together on this issue.

Advocates like the MBA help the industry speak with one voice to build a landscape that fosters access to sustainable homeownership. We have a megaphone and we’ll do all we can to use it in the coming years, asking our member companies and policymakers alike to take action. As Congress and the Biden administration consider policy actions focused on housing, we will engage in the dialogue and lend our voice to drive positive collective action.

Groups like Project REACh will also play a role, convening stakeholders from government, financial institutions, technology, nonprofits, and more to tackle the structural barriers that have contributed to the racial homeownership gap. Through devoted workstreams, Project REACh is addressing broad issues like affordable housing supply and credit scoring while also driving specific actions like down payment assistance programs, closing cost credits, and special purpose credit programs.

We all have a role to play, and while none of us can break down these barriers alone, if we are united in our pursuit, we can make a huge impact together.

Source link