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Unlocking solutions to the homeownership gap

Homeownership has always been at the heart of the American dream, yet for many Black Americans and other communities of color, that dream has remained elusive. To help level the playing field, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), with support from Nationwide and other organizations, is kicking off a coast-to-coast partnership called Keys Unlock Dreams.

The initiative aims to reduce disparities in housing and household wealth by addressing systemic racism and making homeownership a reality for more Black and Hispanic families. Over the next three years, the program’s goals include removing structural barriers that perpetuate racial inequity, expanding affordable and fair housing options, closing racial wealth and homeownership gaps, and preventing an unbalanced recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Affordable housing creates stability for families, and it’s the number one way for people to build wealth,” said Nationwide Chief Administrative Officer Gale King. “We want to make that stability and wealth-making ability more attainable for Black families, who are at greater disadvantage in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These efforts will educate both business leaders and consumers on necessary changes to unlock opportunity for those who have been shut out due to systemic racism.”

Despite the recently ended 10-year economic expansion, national housing data compiled by the NFHA reveals large homeownership rate disparities:73.4 percent for whites compared to 47.8 percent for Latinos and 42.7 percent for Black Americans.

“The Black/White homeownership gap is now back to where it was in 1890,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance. “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has laid bare longstanding structural inequities, will only exacerbate these disparities.”

Pandemic data released by numerous states and cities shows that Black Americans have been hardest hit by COVID-19. For example, Black Americans make up more than half of people who tested positive and 72 percent of virus-related deaths in Chicago, despite comprising less than a third of its population. Similarly in Michigan, Black Americans make up 33 percent of COVID-19 cases and 40 percent of deaths, but account for only 14 percent of the state’s population.

Keys Unlock Dreams is designed to address the challenges facing underserved groups, centered on government advocacy and policy creation, consumer education and outreach, economic research and new public-private partnerships. Nationwide is supporting the initiative with a multi-year, $1 million commitment.

“We've been a long-standing partner with the National Fair Housing Alliance, working together to address systemic racism through targeted investments and education,” said Nationwide CEO Kirt Walker. “Now more than ever, we want to put action behind our words to end racism.”