Next Steps in Expanding Minority Homeownership

On June 16, a rainy Wednesday in Salem Oregon, 50 people from across the state joined Neighborhood Partnerships, Oregon Housing and Community Services, JP Morgan Chase, and others in a thoughtful and provocative conversation about minority homeownership.  Victor Merced began the day by calling on all of us to look carefully at what we are doing now that works, and to think about how to do more to close the minority homeownership gap.

A review of available data shows us that we need to create 30,000 or more new homeowners from communities of color to close Oregon’s homeownership gap.  This task will require the hard work of all existing partners, and some creative work to improve our impact, increase the tools we have at our disposal, and increase the resources available to us.

The good news, though, is that partners now hard at work in Oregon know how to accomplish this.  We heard from several speakers about the barriers that we need to overcome in various communities across the state, and reviewed materials gathered from the City of Portland’s Operation Home efforts.  Then, we heard from a diverse panel about a sampling of the successful efforts now underway.  Strategies shared included a tribal-sponsored down payment initiative, maintaining a multi-cultural staff, focus groups and homebuyer clubs, and land trusts to increase affordability.  Creative partnerships, efficient use of resources, and genuine commitment to reaching people in their communities were evident in all the examples shared by the panel and participants.  And we know we just scratched the surface and did not have time to acknowledge all of the expertise in the room.

Regrettably we couldn’t hear from everyone, and we only touched on key strategies. But our goal was to highlight possibility and commit to taking the next steps together to increase resources and political will to close the gap.

Several next steps were identified.

Best practices sharing through practitioner networks. Oregon Opportunity Network will discuss possible next steps for peer learning and sharing.

State funding decisions for use of the document recording fee. Roberto Franco shared timelines for the five program areas to be funded through the document recording fee. Neighborhood Partnerships will track these timelines and processes and facilitate comments on priorities and processes.

Our Oregon plans to continue discussing legislation that would tie financial education to some loan products. Neighborhood Partnerships will track development and facilitate Housing Alliance consideration of proposals.

There was lots of interest in improving our data—on historical trends in homeownership rates, on the impacts of foreclosures, and on lending practices. Neighborhood Partnerships will follow up on these ideas in the coming months.

    Email Janet with your thoughts, or let us know what you’d like to be part of in the comments section of the blog!