Nonprofit hopes to boost African-American homeownership through financial education

The organization has served at least 300 families through the financial education classes and other community events they held last year

Nonprofit hopes to boost African-American homeownership through financial education
Nonprofit hopes to boost African-American homeownership through financial education

San Antonio – A San Antonio nonprofit organization is focused on increasing Black homeownership in the Alamo City.

That organization is known as the San Antonio Association of Real Estate Brokers or SAAREB.

Brian Paris, president of the chapter, said there is a reason why the organization exists.

“We are the local chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers(NAREB),” Paris said. “The organization was created in 1947 because at that time, African Americans and minorities were not allowed to participate in the real estate environment, so we created our own organization. That is why it is called brokers because now we are able to do what we need to do to get homeownership up in our community.”

Paris said there is a clear difference in the number of non-minority homeowners and minority homeowners.

“When you think about Black homeownership in San Antonio, we are sitting at 42.9% and when you think about non-minority family households, they are sitting at 70%. So why is that gap there? How do we close that gap? How can we educate our African American families on what it takes to get into homeownership?”

He said generational wealth is important to think about.

“When I pass away, my children will get my house and they can make better decisions on schooling and things like that,” Paris said. “The other thing we need to think about is when grandma passes away, what happens to the house? Many don’t know what to do, so it would go to an investor who would then turn around and make thousands and thousands of dollars on it. Instead, we can keep that home in the family and sell it to someone else to help build that generational wealth.”

He said the concept of buying a home is foreign to many families in the African American community.

“We think, ‘Oh it is for those guys over there,’” Paris said. “What do we do to get that myth out of the equation. We have those discussions in our organizations. The realtists members we have, we know how to have that conversation. For example, if you have 3% down, which is $3,000 on a $100,000 house, you can own instead of rent. The amount to rent a condo is more than the cost to own that same condo.”

LaVonna Stewart is a board chair with the organization and she said they’ve realized more issues regarding homeownership over the years.

“America, as a whole, suffered from not having the financial education,” Stewart said. “That is something we see across the board. Now, it is not just focused on minority based, it is income based as well.”

Paris said another obstacle that stands in the way of many in the African American community is the intimidation to buy a home.

“There is a lot of misunderstanding that, ‘I need 20% down to buy a house — 20% down to buy a $100,000 house is $20,000. I don’t have $5,000, so homeownership is not for me,’” Paris said.

“People are also intimidated by the 30-year commitment. Unless you really want to, you are not going to be in your home for 30 years. You may be in there for seven years.”

He said people in the African American community are more likely to rent than buy.

“We talked about the convenience of renting,” Paris said. “‘When I get out of my parents’ house, I am going to rent.’ But that is all we are taught and know. Until someone sits us down and says, ‘You are throwing your money away. Instead of paying your rent and someone else’s mortgage, pay your own mortgage.’”

He said not only is buying better cost-wise, but it provides tax advantages, a possibility for home equity loans, and a better investment.

“When you can buy your house for $150,000 and three years later, you can sell it for $180,000, that $30,000 can go into your new house,” Paris said. “That is how you build wealth.”

The organization holds seminars for families in need of homeownership education. Though, African American families are the main target, Paris said they will help anyone who needs assistance. They’ve helped at least 300 families through their financial education classes and other community events they held last year alone.

They say the process is very rewarding.

“For me, being able to give back to my community and help another family, whether they are buying their first or forever home, it is truly an honor, especially knowing what that feels like myself as a young person at the time buying my first home.”

Paris said there are several other factors that get in the way of black homeownership, like income inequality, but he and other members in the organization are passionate about overcoming those obstacles for the benefit of the community as a whole.

For those looking into homeownership or who have questions about the process, you can visit their website at www.saareb.com.

There you will also be able to see when the next seminar is scheduled.

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About the Authors:

Japhanie Gray is a reporter with KSAT12 News.