At roundtable April 18, housing advocates discuss access to homeownership for communities of color



At a roundtable discussing racial wealth inequality April 18, speakers from several local housing advocacy and neighborhood groups will propose solutions to a persistent problem: lack of access to homeownership for communities of color. According to a release about the event, just 43 percent of African-American households and 33 percent of Latino households own their homes, as compared to 54 percent of white and Asian households.

In discussions of New Orleans' Jiffy-Pop housing market, these kinds of basic structural inequities sometimes go un- or under-discussed. Even in more functional real estate markets, families of color still contend with what economists call the "wealth gap," or the difference between their net worth (cash, property, etc. minus debts and liabilities) and that of white families. Factors such as lack of access to inherited money and property, the racial wage gap and higher levels of debt (often due to predatory lending) all contribute to the wealth gap. A recent Institute for Policy Studies report found that at current growth rates, it will take black families 228 years to reach the same levels of wealth that white families enjoy today.

Homeownership is a key way middle-income families accrue wealth, but the wealth gap means down payments and mortgages with fair terms remain out of reach for many families of color — creating a self-perpetuating cycle of inequality. Speakers at the panel, including representatives from New Orleans Redevelopment Authority, Louisiana Housing Corporation, Housing NOLA and Greater New Orleans Housing Alliance, will talk about ways policy and nonprofit officials can address this disparity.

A light lunch is served at the event at Ashe Cultural Arts Center, which begins at 11:30 a.m. It's free to attend, but an RSVP is requested.

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