Center for Financial Advancement events have drawn high levels of interest from students and young Black professionals

Center for Financial Advancement events have drawn high levels of interest from students and young Black professionals.

( – The housing crisis that caused more than nine million people to suffer foreclosure and even homelessness due to the economic slump across the U. S. 10 years ago, has now fully recovered for everyone … everyone except people of color; especially African-Americans.

"Black people are moving into homeownership at a much slower rate than anything we have seen in the past," said Laurie Goodman, co-author of an Urban Institute report titled, "Are Gains in Black Home Ownership History?"

The report, released last year, continues, "Gains in Black homeownership have been hard won, which amplifies our concern that in the last 15 years, Black homeownership rates have declined to levels not seen since the 1960s, when private, race-based discrimination was legal."

This is the reason homeownership advocates and advisers believe new and innovative ways must be attempted to bring about equality in homeownership in 2018 and beyond. In part, that means a targeted effort to bring young Black professionals, namely new college graduates, into the financial education arena and the home buying job market –  ideas whose times have come, according to HomeFree-USA, a non-profit organization that specializes in mortgage and homeownership advice.

“Most people, when they think about working in a financial institution; they think about the branch or being a teller. But, there's a whole machine, one in which you can really build a good career. So, they are interested,” said Gwendolyn Garnett, program director for the new Center for Financial Advancement (CFA) that HomeFree-USA launched on the campus of Fisk University in Nashville last September. “Awareness and education afford them opportunities whether they are jobs or internships. So they can learn more about the industry and choose to become a part of it.”

People may simply not know the benefits and value of preparing for mortgage approval, said Marcia Griffin, president and CEO of HomeFree-USA.

“It is critical for us. Yet, more African-Americans are becoming renters than they are home owners. Homeownership is our primary wealth building tool. But it's also a personal tool. It's a life tool that enables us to provide something to leave for our children, to have a life in which you are paying yourself instead of paying the landlord,” said Griffin. “I often use this as an example. If you're paying $1,000 a month rent and you rent for 10 years, conservatively you're talking about $120,000 that you've paid to somebody else. No benefit at all.”

She also pointed out that rents often go up whereas a fixed rate mortgage stays the same.

“This is just a wealth building tool that must be promoted," said Griffin.

In the three decades after the Fair Housing Act, signed into law in 1968, America’s Black homeownership grew nearly 6 percentage points, the Urban Institute report said. But, according to Forbes, “from 2000 to 2015, that gain dropped to about 41 percent, compared to white homeownership of 71 percent.”

The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) sees a glimmer of hope as NAREB has detected a slight upward movement in Black home ownership rates. HomeFree-USA is pushing to increase that trend by empowering students with the financial education that they will then spread among each other as well as to parents and ultimately into the community.

A core principal of the CFA is that the more African-Americans are involved in the lending and mortgage business, the more buyers they will attract. They hope this will result in a significant spike in the housing industry as it relates to African-Americans in general; including African-American youth.

“I agree that yes, whether you're African-American or Hispanic, those ethnic groups are comfortable dealing with people who look like them. And I think that's the case not only for homeownership but a host of other experiences and consumer decisions that we make," said Jeffrey Hicks, NAREB president and CEO.

Prospective salaries may serve as enticements for young professionals. The annual salaries can range from an average of $75,900-$93,000 as a senior underwriter to $41,725-$135,000 as a loan officer and multiple opportunities in between according to mortgage industry salary listings. There are opportunities for even higher salaries when sales are involved.

“Mortgage loan officer jobs are usually commission based. I know some who have made millions in this industry,” said Garnett, who worked for Bank of America for more than 24 years in various positions. “When you sell a home, when that person gets a home loan through you, you get a big commission from that, so you can make a good income, but a lot of young folks are not even aware of the industry.”

The Center for Financial Advancement has launched on the heels of a recent study that says although more African-Americans than ever are going to college, Black students are still over-represented in majors that result in the lowest paying jobs. According to a 2016 study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, only 7 percent of finance and marketing majors are African-American.

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