Recap: Dearborn REALTIST® Panel on Combating Chicago's Low Black Homeownership Rate | Chicago Association of REALTORS®

Chicago’s Black homeownership rate is 39.1 percent, lower than the national average of 41 percent.

On Thursday, November 1, our Industry Partner, the Dearborn REALTIST® Board held a forum to discuss public policy and its impact on African American housing in the Chicagoland area. At the DuSable Museum of African American History, the auditorium was filled with REALTORS®, REALTISTS®, civic leaders and community members eager to hear from the distinguished panel, which included:

  • Anthony Simpkins, Managing Deputy Commissioner for the City of Chicago’s Department of Planning and Development
  • Mahmoud Faisal Elkhatib, Commercial Attorney, focusing on real estate
  • Mark Alston, Owner of Alston & Associates and First Vice President of the California Association of Real Estate Brokers
  • Courtney Jones, President of the Dearborn REALTIST® Board

Anthony Simpkins opened the discussion by identifying the list of initiatives that the City of Chicago has to assist owners, new buyers and renters. He encouraged attendees to spread the word, in their communities and with their clients, and visit CityOfChicago.org/DPD to learn more about the programs designed to help everyone from young singles to seniors.

Mahmoud Faisal Elkhatib gave an overview of the Opportunity Zone Program. The federal initiative is active throughout Chicago, and offers tax incentives for those buying property in low-income communities. Mahmoud recognized that such opportunities often get used by larger commercial and corporate buyers, but insisted that the African American community should feel motivated to invest in the property available in their communities.

Mark Alston provided a list of dismal data to showcase the lack of African American homeownership locally and nationwide. He noted that much of the problem is due to the “intentional” and discriminatory policies and practices meant to restrict African Americans from owning homes and building wealth in their communities.

He also noted that while many of the issues were lessened by the Fair Housing Act of 1968, the attitudes, practices and implications can be seen in a lot of policies and lending practices today. For example:

  • While African Americans make up 24 percent of the Cook County population, they only receive 10 percent of new mortgages.
  • In Cook County, the mortgage denial rate for African Americans is 28.8 percent, compared to 12.89 percent for Whites.

Mark concluded that the complex history of African Americans receiving inequitable housing opportunities is part of the reason that many feel like homeownership is not even an option; as a result, they’ve stopped trying. In Chicago, African Americans only submitted 13.4 percent of mortgage applications, although they are 30.9 percent of Chicago’s population.

Courtney Jones closed the discussion by identifying ways that the narrative and statistics will be changed, with help from the entire community. First, he addressed the importance of speaking to youth about finances and real estate opportunities. Culturally and historically, children have been left out of such conversations, but Courtney encouraged families to change that mindset. In 2019, the Dearborn REALTISTS® will begin offering free seminars, about finances and real estate, at faith centers throughout Chicago. Lastly, he insisted, to make a real change, everyone is responsible for educating the community, partnering with one another, taking advantage of the policies in place and knowing who policymakers are and holding them accountable.