Updated February 9, 2021 - 11:26 am
The homeownership gap is widening between Black families and white families at a rate not seen since the 1960s, when it was legal to discriminate against a buyer because of race.
Steps are being taken to close the gap in Southern Nevada after city and community leaders announced the launch of a new coalition Tuesday morning from the steps of Las Vegas City Hall.
The new group, known as Coalition to Make Homes Possible, is aiming to close the Black homeownership gap by helping up to 25,000 families over the next 10 years get on the path to purchasing their own home.
“When we asked all the organizations working on this what is the biggest issue it really came down to awareness — awareness in these communities,” said Elias Benjelloun, head of Homie Helps Las Vegas. “Whether you’re only a month away or two years away from buying your own home, we’re here to help you get the resources.”
Among those in attendance were Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman, the Urban Chamber of Commerce President Ken Evans, and Shanta Patton, vice president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers.
While the initiative is long overdue, it will help give buyers the knowledge and financial resources needed to buying a home, Goodman said.
“It’s been a long time coming,” she said. “And I know having lived here since 1964. This is so embarrassingly long overdue. This should have happened decades ago. … It’s a wonderful opportunity for the people who live in Las Vegas and call this community home.”
Southern Nevadans looking for help or resources can visit makehomespossible.org.
The website offers one-on-one housing coaches and free educational classes.
Homie, a Utah-based full-service real estate tech company, is sponsoring the coalition. The firm brought together several local organizations to help. They include the Urban Chamber of Commerce, Nevada Housing Division, Las Vegas, Nevada Partners, National Association of Real Estate Brokers, Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America, NID Housing Counseling Agency of Southern Nevada and AmeriFirst Financial.
Benjelloun said buying a home requires a number of boxes to be checked off such as having a consistent income and a certain credit score.
“You also need this down payment money that can be thousands of dollars,” he said. “That’s one of the biggest barriers for families to buy their home. So, when they sign up with us we essentially help them get access to down payment assistance money and if they’re struggling with their credit or other issues we can connect them to resources to fix that as well.”
Nevada Partners Executive Director Kenadie Cobbin-Richardson said the coalition will be hosting its first masterclass 10 a.m. Feb. 27.
Residents can register for free on the coalition’s website. The class will cover available resources for potential homebuyers and details on accessing up to $25,000 toward a down payment.
Cobbin-Richardson said demand for resources is high among Black communities, especially in the Historic Westside neighborhood near downtown.
“It’s about equity because it’s a community that’s been greatly impacted,” he said.
The latest report from the Urban Institute shows the gap between Black homeownership and white homeownership in the Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise area is about 31 percent, which also mirrors national figures.
In 1960, there was a 27-point gap between Black and white homeownership in which 38 percent of Blacks owned homes, and 65 percent of whites owned homes.
Las Vegas Raiders player Nelson Agholor, who was in attendance at the briefing, shared his own experience of having to move from one apartment to another as a child.
“Not everyone is going to be a professional football player, but when the kids have stability in one aspect of their lives, they’re allowed to focus to become something greater and not just fall behind,” Agholor said. “And I hope most minority families take advantage of this — not most but all actually.”