Black History Month: Inspiring Stories From Our Members - February 28, Zoom Event
As we come to the end of Black History Month, we will discuss what Black History Month means to us as members and how we can continue to support our Black community all year-round. HGAR Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer Freddimir Garcia will be joined by Crystal Hawkins-Syska, Licensed Associate Broker at Keller Williams NY Realty and Dean Bailey, Principal Broker/Owner of the Dean Bailey Agency, LLC to share stories, facts, and recommendations as we continue our work as a member-centered association.
Record-High Prices, Low Inventory Make It Increasingly Difficult for Black Americans to Achieve Home Ownership
Record-High Prices, Low Inventory Make It Increasingly Difficult for Black Americans to Achieve Home Ownership
WASHINGTON—The surging residential real estate market of the last two years led to record-high home prices and record-low inventory. This simultaneous “double trouble” has made it increasingly difficult for consumers, particularly Black Americans, to achieve homeownership, according to a new analysis released on Feb. 7 by the National Association of Realtors and Realtor.com. “The Double Trouble of the Housing Market” report examines the impact that rapidly escalating home prices and diminishing housing inventory has on housing affordability. Unlike previous affordability research and indices, NAR and Realtor.com considered affordability for all income groups, accounted for the affordability of homes currently available for sale instead of homes that have already sold and provided affordability data by race for the 100 largest U.S. metro areas.
Nationally, more than 400,000 fewer affordable homes are available for sale for households earning $75,000 to $100,000 when compared to the start of the pandemic (245,300 in December 2021 vs. 656,200 in December 2019). For that same income group, there’s one affordable listing available for every 65 households, a significant drop in availability from one affordable listing for every 24 households in 2019.
The total home valuation across the country is estimated to have risen by $8.1 trillion from the first quarter of 2020 through the end of 2021. However, this sizable increase in real estate values was not accompanied by a rise in homeownership as the ownership rate remained at approximately 65%.
“The housing wealth gain has been sizable over the past two years,” said NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun. “However, due to the ongoing inventory shortage and rising interest rates, homeownership attainment will become especially challenging unless drastically more housing supply is available.”
For households with higher incomes, some expensive metro areas—San Francisco, San Jose, Washington, D.C., for example—surprisingly are more affordable than before the start of the pandemic due to increasing incomes and lower mortgage rates. Since 2019, household incomes rose 15% and 13%, respectively, in San Jose and San Francisco. However, while some households in these markets can afford to buy a greater share of homes, fewer options exist as a result of the record-low inventory. For example, households earning $100,000 to $125,000 in the San Francisco metro area can afford to buy 180 fewer homes now compared to December 2019. For households in San Francisco earning $125,000 to $150,000, there are about 300 fewer affordable homes available than in December 2019.
“In general, an increase in salary makes housing more affordable to a buyer. But due to the reductions in inventory over the last few years, today’s buyers in large tech markets can actually afford a smaller number of homes than they could two years ago, despite an uptick in wages,” said Realtor.com Chief Economist Danielle Hale. “The low inventory challenge is particularly acute for some racial and ethnic groups who have faced greater hurdles to homeownership stemming from, among other things, lower incomes as a group.”
A significant and persistent racial homeownership gap exists in America. Since 2017, the annual homeownership rate for White Americans has remained comfortably above 70%; however, the homeownership rate for Black Americans has been slightly above 40%—nearly 30 percentage points lower. NAR and Realtor.com analyzed housing affordability by racial group to help explain the differences in homeownership. Nationwide, 35% of White households and only 20% of Black households have incomes greater than $100,000. Approximately half of all homes currently listed for sale (51%) are affordable to households with at least $100,000 income and substantial variances in affordability exist by metro area.
“Moreover, the homeownership rate has been around 50% for all households in the expensive metro markets, such as Los Angeles and San Francisco, and therefore it’s becoming nearly impossible to afford a home, especially for Black households,” Yun added. “At the same time, there are affordable markets that still provide opportunities to achieve homeownership as inventory at affordable price points is reasonably available.”
NAR and Realtor.com also identified the top 10 most affordable housing markets for Black households. In alphabetical order, the markets are Akron, OH; Baltimore, MD; Birmingham, AL.; Dayton, OH; Detroit, MI; McAllen, TX; Memphis, TN.; St. Louis, MO; Toledo, OH and Youngstown, OH. In these metro areas, Black households can afford to buy homes roughly in proportion to their income distributions.
To increase the nation’s housing inventory, NAR is advocating that all levels of government include funding for affordable housing construction; preserve, expand and create tax incentives to renovate distressed properties; convert unused commercial space to residential units; and encourage and incentivize zoning reform.
Moreover, expanding new-home construction by an additional 550,000 units a year for 10 years would create 2.8 million new jobs and generate more than $400 billion in economic activity. NAR and the Rosen Consulting Group’s “Housing is Critical Infrastructure: Social and Economic Benefits of Building More Housing” report examines the causes of America’s housing shortage and provides a range of actions that can effectively address this longtime problem.
Our month long celebration of Black History Month continues with our curated list of resources for online and in-person events happening in the Lower Hudson Valley and NYC. There’s something here for everyone!
After New Year celebrations wind down, organizations begin their annual discussions on what and how to celebrate Black History Month. Many begin by recognizing the lives and contributions of Black Americans throughout history, while others post messages of recognition on social media. I believe it all has a role to play but it is also as important to celebrate the stories and achievements of the Black community, authentically, while recognizing the impacts of slavery in our U.S. history.
I’d like to take you down a journey about Black History Month, which all started with Dr. Woodson.
Dr. Carter G. Woodson, the Father of Black History, is given much of the credit for Black History Month. Throughout his educational career (He was the second African American to earn a doctorate degree from Harvard in 1912) he noticed the ignored representation of the black population in textbooks and took it upon himself to change it. He founded the Association for Study of African American Life and History with the mission to create and disseminate knowledge.
Black History Month began as Negro History week by Dr. Woodson in 1926. It was celebrated on the second week of February because it was already a well-celebrated week with the birthday of two great American symbols—Abraham Lincoln, and Frederick Douglass. Despite its name, Dr. Woodson never confined Negro History to a week, a month, or an annual cycle.
He intended for us to use this as a springboard for year-round consumption of African American history. In 1986, it was officially established as a national holiday with a clear statement: “The foremost purpose of Black History Month is to make all Americans aware of the struggle for freedom and equal opportunity.”
It is said that every journey has its own path, but every journey requires forward movement. And that movement, for all of us, should include recognizing the importance of Black History in pursuit of equality and racial justice.
It isn’t enough to post a Black History Month post. It isn’t enough to highlight a current employee. It isn’t enough to support fair housing mandates. We must dig deeper.
Let’s do all those things by adding ways of showing genuine recognition of Black history. Go ahead and post and don’t disregard the historical struggle; recognize your employees, and don’t forget to state we still have a lot of work to do. Educate yourself on the reality of systemic racism and ways to be antiracist, and lastly, advocate for fair housing while thinking of result-driven ways to eradicate the homeownership gap that exists in our country.
This is a perfect time as we enter a new year to reflect, assess, grow, and act. Once you see, you can’t un-see, and I am confident you will find the opportunity to dig deeper with intention, purpose, and growth.
At Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors, we have committed to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion in ways that allow us to authentically celebrate and acknowledge the diversity among our members, staff, and community. It gives me great pleasure as the Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Officer at HGAR to officially launch our Black History Month celebrations.
We hope to share some informative ways of getting involved and plan on hosting a candid conversation at the end of the month with members of our association to reflect on what Black History Month means to them, personally and professionally.
Last month we celebrated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who eloquently said, “The time is always right to do what is right.” So, let’s start today!
National Association of Realtors Article 10 (1974)
In 1974 the National Association of Realtors adopted Article 10 in the code of ethics which stated that members should not deny service based on race, creed, sex or national origin.
The National Association of Realtors had for quite some time played a role in maintaining discriminatory practices in homeownership. Many factors played into NAR’s resistance: historic prejudice, the belief that property values were more stable if neighborhoods were occupied by the same racial/social classes and the argument that people should be free to refuse to sell or rent a home to anyone for any reason — even if the decision was based on race.
NAR actively fought passage of the Fair Housing Act. “The opposition coming from our industry was you’re forcing us to sell to people we don’t want to sell to,” stated Fred Underwood of NAR. However, since 1974 NAR had taking huge steps in becoming advocates for Fair Housing and have made amendments to Article 10. The most recent of which was in November 2020 where the article was expanded to include hate speech.
REALTORS® must not use harassing speech, hate speech, epithets, or slurs” against members of those protected classes.
John E. (Jack) Nail, a successful African-American Harlem, New York realtor, was born in New London, Connecticut in 1883. His parents, Elizabeth and John B. Nail, moved to New York City where the senior Nail bought a hotel, restaurant, and billiard parlor after working for a time in a gambling house. His entrepreneurial endeavors made an early impression on John as he was growing up.
In 1911, Nail and his pastor, Rev. Hutchens C. Bishop of St. Philips Episcopal Church, made a series of real estate purchases in Harlem totaling $1,070,000. These deals, helped by Bishop’s ability to pass for white, allowed land for a new church and for church-owned apartment buildings that would be rented out to tenants. As blacks increasingly moved into Harlem after 1915, Nail and his associates purchased more property. Despite the emphasis on home purchases, Nail soon realized that most new black Harlemites were hungry for, and could only afford, apartments. By 1925, Nail and Associates owned and managed around fifty apartment complexes and had an annual income of $1 million. They also helped to develop Harlem by funding the Harlem branch of the YMCA, helping small businesses in the area, and building up Harlem’s local bank.
The Communities of Parkway Homes and Parkway Gardens (White Plains, NY-Greenburgh)
In the 1930s and 1940s not many African-Americans lived here, however the first two African-American families moved into the community in 1929. One of the first African-American families to move in was Anna J. Bernard, a licensed lawyer educated at NYU Law School originally from New York City and her husband, Woodruff Robinson, a dentist. They moved into the community in 1929.
Although Mrs. Bernard had passed the bar in 1923 and was therefore licensed to practice law, the laws at that time forbade African-Americans from actually practicing law. Therefore, she became a school teacher. In the 1950s and 1960s more African-Americans came. The growing African-American presence was met with overt as well as covert protest with occasional terroristic activity such as cross burnings by members of the White community. Learn More
Weeksville, Brooklyn, NY
Weeksville is a historic neighborhood founded by free African Americans in what is now Brooklyn, New York. Today it is part of the present-day neighborhood of Crown Heights.
Weeksville was named after James Weeks, an African American stevedore from Virginia. In 1838 (11 years after the final abolition of slavery in New York State) Weeks bought a plot of land from Henry C. Thompson, a free African American and land investor, in the Ninth Ward of central Brooklyn. Thompson had acquired the land from Edward Copeland, a politically minded European American and Brooklyn grocer, in 1835. Previously Copeland bought the land from an heir of John Lefferts, a member of one of the most prominent and land-holding families in Brooklyn. There was ample opportunity for land acquisition during this time, as many prominent land-holding families sold off their properties during an intense era of land speculation. Many African Americans saw land acquisition as their opportunity to gain economic and political freedom by building their own communities. The NYC Parks website confuses Weeks with a man of the same name who lived 1776-1863.
Born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 in Delta Louisiana, where her parents and elder siblings were enslaved, Madam Walker would become a cosmetics and business pioneer. Developing beauty and hair products for black women, Madam Walker trained nearly 23,000 sales agents and workers, serving customers in the United States, Central America, and the Caribbean. Recognized by the Guinness Book of Records for being America’s first, self-made female millionaire, Madam Walker’s achievements in the face of racial challenges of 20th century America are impressive and without comparison. The preservation of Villa Lewaro reminds us about her remarkable life once lived.
In Irvington, New York, there stands Madam C. J. Walker’s “Villa Lewaro,” a restored historic residence that embodies the optimism and perseverance of the American entrepreneurial spirit. The New York estate has been purchased by an organization founded by the owner of Essence magazine.
In the 1940s and 1950s, subdivisions in Sag Harbor Hills, Azurest and Ninevah, collectively known as SANS, became a summer home destination for upper- and middle-class African-Americans, many of them doctors, lawyers and dentists.
When Jim Crow laws left few recreational options for African-Americans, the founding residents created these unique communities on underdeveloped land at the outskirts of Sag Harbor Village, which to this day have more than 300 houses. The summer houses gave black Americans a place of their own.
SANS has been besieged by redevelopment in recent years, but about 20 of the original families still maintain homes there today. Mr. Dudley said developers have been trying to buy out the elderly residents in particular.
The Land of the Blacks (currently Washington Square Park/Greenwich Village, Soho)
In the 1600s, the Dutch West India Company brought over slaves from Angola, Congo, and Guinea, and by the mid-17th century, a village called the Land of the Blacks saw 30 African-owned farms in modern-day Washington Square Park. The Land of the Blacks also included what is now Chinatown, Little Italy, and SOHO. It was created as a buffer area by Dutch Governor Willem Kieft when white people vacated the area due to Kieft's war the native Lenape tribe, and was closed down and taken by anti-black laws after the New York Slave Revolt Of 1712.
Paulo d’Angola came to New Amsterdam on the first ship bringing enslaved people to this region in 1626. Nearly twenty years later, d’Angola and others in this group successfully petitioned the Dutch West India Company for their freedom.
Then, on July 14, 1645, d’Angola was granted a six acre plot of farmland in and around what is today Washington Square Park. While several other formerly enslaved individuals won their freedom and these land grants in the weeks and months before him, most of the land they were given was a bit further south, in what would today be called the Lower East Side, SoHo, and Tribeca. This made d’Angola the very first non-Native American settler in the heart of what is today Greenwich Village. His story is part of a critical, but largely forgotten, history of enslavement and early Black land ownership in our neighborhoods.
Foster Memorial AME Zion Church And Mrs Amanda Foster
The Foster Memorial AME Zion Church is located on Wildey Street in Tarrytown, New York, United States.
Formed in 1860, it is the oldest black church in Westchester County and possibly one of the oldest in the state. During the Civil War it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Amanda Foster, is considered the “Mother of the Church.” She was the driving force in the formation of the congregation, whose first meetings were held in her Tarrytown confectionery.
Before Central Park was created, the landscape along what is now the Park’s perimeter from West 82nd to West 89th Street was the site of Seneca Village.
For African-Americans, Seneca Village offered the opportunity to live in an autonomous community far from the densely populated downtown. Despite New York State’s abolition of slavery in 1827, discrimination was still prevalent throughout New York City, and severely limited the lives of African-Americans. Seneca Village’s remote location likely provided a refuge from this climate. It also would have provided an escape from the unhealthy and crowded conditions of the City, and access to more space both inside and outside the home.
The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB)
The National Association of Real Estate Brokers(NAREB) was formed July 29, 1947, making it the oldest minority trade association in America.NAREB was established by African-American real estate professionals as an alternative for African-Americans who were excluded from the National Association of Realtors.
Booker T. Washington and The National Negro Business League
The National Negro Business League (NNBL) was an American organization founded in Boston in 1900 by Booker T. Washington to promote the interests of African-American businesses. A part of its membership included the National Association of Negro Real Estate Dealers which would become The National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) in 1947.
Edward William Brooke III (October 26, 1919 – January 3, 2015) was an American Republican politician. In 1966, he became the first African American popularly elected to the United States Senate. He represented Massachusetts. He co-wrote the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibits housing discrimination.
William Warley was a civil rights activist and editor of the Louisville News, which he founded in 1913. He was also a party to a U.S. Supreme Court Case, Buchanan v. Warley which was considered a crucial first step toward ending racial discrimination in housing in the U.S.
Bruce's Beach was a beach resort in the city of Manhattan Beach, California, that was owned by and operated for African Americans. It provided the African American community with opportunities unavailable at other beach areas because of segregation.
Bruce Beach was established in 1912 by Charles and Willa Bruce.