The gateway to wealth: new B.E.-GE initiative seeks to close the home ownership gap. (Real Estate Strategies).African Americans African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. have always trailed whites as home owners home owner home n → propriétaire occupant . Since 1995, the percentage of African American homeowners in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. has trailed the percentage of white homeowners by 26% or more--a problem that many believe contributes to the wealth disparity dis·par·i·ty
n. pl. dis·par·i·ties
1. The condition or fact of being unequal, as in age, rank, or degree; difference: "narrow the economic disparities among regions and industries" between the two races. BLACK ENTERPRISE and General Electric Mortgage Insurance have entered into an ambitious partnership aimed at increasing the number of African American homeowners nationwide, and educating African Americans about the value of using home ownership as a gateway to wealth.
"There is an unacceptable home ownership gap between white and African American households in this country, and too little is being done about it," says Tom Mann Tom Mann (15 April 1856 - 13 March 1941) was a noted British trade unionist. Largely self-educated, Mann became a successful organiser and a popular public speaker in the labour movement. , president and CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. of GE Mortgage Insurance. "Home ownership is a major step in wealth accumulation, and we want to help more African Americans take that step."
The plan to get more African Americans into homes will be incorporated into the existing Black Wealth Initiative (call 877-WEALTHY for a Wealth Building kit) that BE began more than two years ago. Lisa Salley, vice president of New Markets for GE Mortgage Insurance, says the emphasis will be on education--providing live workshops and tools for people to do financial self-assessments, and then making access to mortgage loans easier. BE will sponsor events where home ownership will be emphasized, and also provide Internet access See how to access the Internet. to mortgage calculation tools and mortgage applications from GE and its lending partners.
"Every individual ought to have a personal home ownership strategy," says Salley. She explains that individuals can use their home to qualify for tax advantages that help build wealth, as an investment vehicle, or as leverage to obtain other things they want out of life (such as using home equity to pay for education.)
Unfortunately, Salley says, many people have misconceptions Misconceptions is an American sitcom television series for The WB Network for the 2005-2006 season that never aired. It features Jane Leeves, formerly of Frasier, and French Stewart, formerly of 3rd Rock From the Sun. about mortgages that prevent them from obtaining homes. These include the feeling that 20% down is required for a home mortgage, or that mortgage insurance is a government program for low-income people.
Lawrence Cooke, vice president, and national advertising director for BE, says the collaboration between BE and GE is great for everyone involved. It allows GE to extend its mortgage products into the underserved African American market; it allows BE to service its core audience with a product that actually delivers economic empowerment em·pow·er
tr.v. em·pow·ered, em·pow·er·ing, em·pow·ers
1. To invest with power, especially legal power or official authority. See Synonyms at authorize.
2. ; and it allows African American consumers greater access to home ownership than before. "This effort will say to our audience: This is important. The time to do this is now, and it's well within your reach," says Cooke. For more information, log on to www .blackenterprise.com.
Homeownership by Race 1998 1999 2000 White 72.6 73.2 73.8 African American 46.1 46.7 47.6 Latino 44.7 45.5 46.5 Asian 53.7 54.1 53.9 SOURCE: "THE STATE OF THE NATION'S HOUSING 2001," JOINT CENTER FOR HOUSING STUDIES OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY Note: Table made from bar graph.