Homeownership 2014: The Urban League on Homeownership Post-Subprime

6/11/2014, 2 p.m.
The Urban League has assisted many African-Americans in securing loans and embracing the benefits of homeownership.

The Urban League has assisted many African-Americans in securing loans and embracing the benefits of homeownership. How have your counseling endeavors and programs changed since the crisis in Black homeownership caused by the sub-prime lending debacle?

The League like most organizations that remain relevant must continue to change and adapt. During the crisis we increased our homeownership counseling focus and ultimately hired two full-time housing counselors to meet the communities’ needs.

What advice do you have for individuals and families coming out of a negative sub-prime experience and attempting to become homeowners a second time?

Get educated, start from the beginning to attend a pre-purchase workshop, then make an appointment with a HUD certified counseling agency and sit with a counselor to review your credit, budget, and goals to find out the size of the loan you can qualify for. Do not purchase more home than you can comfortably qualify for today! Take your time!

How do you frame homeownership for those first-time buyers who became apprehensive about homeownership following the subprime lending scandals?

Homeownership is a key to wealth building; a tool that should not be used without reading and carefully following the instructions. Make sure that this is the tool that you want to use to build wealth. It can be fantastic for stabilizing families but you need to be ready to put in the time to fully understand the process to ensure you don’t make the mistakes others have.

Across the country African-American communities are shrinking through redevelopment and revitalization that has altered the value of their property and in many cases has the potential to displace homeowners through excessive taxes. How does the Urban League assess this growing phenomenon and what should homeowners do to ensure they do not lose their owned property through state or local tax liens?

They should contact their local municipalities and find out if they have programs that can mitigate the expense; depending on the homeowners’ income most municipalities have programs that they can apply to participate in. If they believe the value has been assessed too high they can request that the property be re-assessed.

What are some ways African-Americans can increase the value of their homes to ensure that they remain a ready source of asset building?

Keep the interior and exterior clean and free of clutter. Property values are determined by market conditions (how much homes sell for in the neighborhood); as long as the property is maintained it should be able to keep up with market conditions.