Black homeownership is down in Arkansas

According to data from Zillow, in 2020, of all home loans Arkansans applied for, 38.9% were denied. 12.9% of them were white, while 26% were black.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The American Dream has always included the idea of ​​owning a home, giving you the concept that you could own a little piece of the dream, something you worked for and could pass on to your loved ones.

But for much of the country, minorities in particular, home ownership is still more of a dream than a reality.

“Most of the wealth in the United States is in home ownership…so if we solve that problem, what would our world look like?” said Josh Harmon, owner of Harmon Real Estate.

According to data from Zillow, in 2020, of all home loans Arkansans applied for, 38.9% were denied. Of those 38.9% who were turned down, 12.9% were white, while black Arkansans were turned down at more than double that rate at 26%.

Data shows that Black Arkansans are struggling to become homeowners, but what is the solution? Experts agree that education is the first step.

“As minorities, black people in particular, we’re okay with doing things on our own. We’re okay with figuring things out, but if we get the information, it makes the process so much easier” , Harmon said. “You can honestly work hard and think you’re doing the right thing on your own, but you’re going in the wrong direction.”

Harmon has already been able to help several young black homeowners in the River Valley, including Jasmaine Armington, who entered one of Harmon’s first-time homebuyer workshops. She was a single mom with issues and came out educated and determined.

“I’m like ‘just let me go just to see what I can learn’ because I know absolutely nothing about buying a house, so when I went to the workshop I learned a lot of knowledge as far as what you need to do…the process and I’m like, ‘Well, maybe I can do this,’” she said.

“That simplified event that we had was basically the reason she was able to run and buy a house,” Harmon said. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had. One of my favorite clients I’ve had.”

This information changed not only Jasmaine’s life, but also that of her son.

“I was really shocked because they were like, ‘Oh, you’re approved.’ I was literally in tears, because I never thought I could own a house,” said she declared. “As soon as I signed the papers and walked into the house and was like ‘this is mine’, of course I also had my son with me, the closure and all. so was the best feeling ever.”

Harmon isn’t the only resource available to new homebuyers. Arvest Bank has launched a pilot program called Reach to Enrich. Tammy Roper helps oversee this program.

“We want everyone, everyone who is interested, we want them to come, if they need help that’s our goal,” Roper said. “There is no cap, we want to be able to help everyone in the community.”

The program is a community outreach effort by Arvest Bank. The concept is to break down some of the cultural barriers that prevent minorities from being able to sign on the dotted line.

“That’s a key point, we’re at the forefront of collaboration and trying to channel and make it easy to get the right information and the right resources,” Roper said. “Bringing the resources to you…helps you feel comfortable and hopefully learn without shame, because we don’t single you out, we do it as a group.”

Believe it or not, this shame, the fear of rejection, will often prevent people of color from taking the steps necessary to become an owner.

“It’s already a daunting thing, but you want me to go sit with someone who I don’t identify with, who doesn’t look like me…” Harmon said.

“It’s pride. I know our culture is very proud, but I think if you can do better, why not, why not do better?” Roper said.

Doing better, as a people and as a country, is ultimately the goal. We must work to make these painful statistics a thing of the past.

“At the end of the day, it’s just about giving the information and most people who show up,” Harmon said. “When they hear ‘hey, you can buy a house with a credit score as low as 580,’ it’s like it all grows from there.”

“Sharing this information is also important as you and I know if we know the information why not share the information which is another key to financial power and literacy is sharing what you know with someone else,” Roper said.

Roper and Harmon are always willing to share and help, but ultimately it’s up to each of us to want that information, like Jasmaine did.

“I think they need to have more because a lot of people don’t know what I have to do in the process, what steps do I have to take. If I had never taken this course, I feel like that I would. I didn’t know anything,” she said.

More education. more information and less fear can change many more lives in the future.

Watch our video below for more tips on a better home buying experience:

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