Times are tough for many Americans, and most people simply accept that the economy is unstable. Though we can accept such things, that doesn’t mean we want to let go of the dreams we have for our lives, our families, and our futures.
As headlines surge with the struggles of the 99%, much of the population gets lumped together. It seems, however, minority segments of the population have additional pressures. On our quests to build our lives, home ownership is a goal for many. It appears that dream is becoming harder and harder for many American minorities.
According to The State of the Nation’s Housing, 2015 from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies, “Homeownership rates among minority households fell much more sharply after the housing market crash, reversing some of the modest progress made toward closing the white-minority homeownership gap since the early 1990s. As of 2014, the homeownership rate for minorities as a group remains 25.5 percentage points lower than that of whites. Nonetheless, despite falling homeownership rates in recent years, the numbers of Hispanic and Asian/other households owning homes have continued to rise as their shares of all households have climbed.”
The data may not appear too favorable, but that doesn’t shift desires away from owning a home and laying a foundation in a chosen community. Many minorities aren’t aware of the tools at their disposable on their path to homeownership. Below you will find helpful home buying resources for minorities.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT (HUD)
HUD is at the top of the national pyramid when it comes to securing homeownership rights and resources for minorities. This government agency is the umbrella to many of our nation’s community housing resources. Many citizens are under the impression that HUD can actually assist individuals with home ownership, but this is a myth. HUD distributes its finances to state agencies. In turn, individuals must consult their specific state government to inquire about what grants and/or resources are available to them. HUD, however, does provide an abundance of information and support to those seeking homeownership guidance.
FEDERAL HOUSING ADMINISTRATON (FHA)
The FHA was created after bank failures during the great depression and has shaped the face of home ownership. The agency assists home buyers in obtaining reasonable financing. The FHA touts low down payments, low closing costs, and easy credit qualifying.
UNITED STATES OFFICE OF FAIR HOUSING AND EQUAL OPPORTUNITY (FHEO)
The FHEO exists to promote the inclusion of all groups, uphold the housing rights of all Americans, and facilitate the building of healthy, diverse communities. The department includes and supports the Fair Housing Initiative Program (FHIP) and the Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP).
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA)
The USDA provides information and resources to minorities and women across the country who desire buying a home in rural settings. Opportunities are offered to “Socially Disadvantaged Applicants” including women, African-Americans, Alaskan Natives, American Indians, Hispanics, Asians, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders. It is stated the application process does not differ from the standard process. Applicants are simply asked to voluntarily share their race, ethnicity, and gender on forms. Specifically these resources are reserved for ranches and farms.
FAIR HOUSING ACT/EQUAL CREDIT OPPORTUNITY ACT
The Fair Housing Act protects home buyers from being discriminated against by sellers. When applying for loans, creditors are not allowed to request certain personal information from applicants. They are also not allowed to reject or extend credit based on sex, religion, race, marital status, age, or national origin. Knowing your rights will make the home buying process run smoothly.
The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development distributes its finances to the states individually. Each state offers its own particular programs for its residents. Every state differs in its offerings, so it’s best to consult your particular state housing agencies to find which benefits work best for you.
In addition to individual state grants, there are nonprofit organizations spread across the country, in your state, and in your communities that target and assist certain minority demographics. Nonprofits work with donors to distribute funds into particular niche areas. They fundraise to support their causes and elevate those they believe are in need. One example of such an organization is Portland’s PROUD GROUND. Most larger communities have support groups that focus their resources on elevating the minority population in many ways – including homeownership.
UNITED STATES VETERANS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
If you’re a minority home buyer that also served in the United States military, the VA may be able to assist you in financing your home loan. These opportunities are also extended to eligible spouses of service members.
HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGN
The word minority is not simply about race. The Human Rights Campaign is a foundation that fights for the rights of the LGBT community. Their organization can provide information on a number of sectors including the factors that come with homeownership. With the national ruling regarding gay marriage, certain housing and legal options may shift in the near future. Keep your eye out for updates regarding housing contracts for same sex couples.
FEDERAL HOME FINANCING AGENCY (FHFA)
Created in 2008, the FHFA is an independent government agency that oversees and regulates home lending institutions. Its purpose is to ensure stable and reliable resources for homeowners across the country. The agency provides an enormous amount of tools to all citizens wishing to purchase a home. Their information is invaluable to anyone navigating the real estate market.
Buying a home is a huge decision and commitment. Researching communities, financial avenues, and homes can be a simultaneously scary and exciting undertaking. Don’t let unnecessary fears or circumstances stand in your way. Empower yourself with as much information and as many tools as possible.
Everyone pursues their own version of the American dream. American minority groups should feel confident and secure as they build their ideal. We hope these resources have helped you take the next step toward making your dreams a reality.