As we approach the doorstep of spring 2015 and the American economy continues to heat up Wall Street, far too many African Americans remain frozen in the economic blizzard of 2008. While we continue to hope and search for answers that will lead to the healthy economic recovery and restoration of our communities, it is imperative that we define our current reality.
The reality during the past six years is our economists, bankers, politicians, pastors, teachers, artists, actors, musicians, lawyers, doctors, businesspersons, journalists, baby boomers, generation x and millennials have all posited reasons and blame for the economic collapse of the housing market and its impact on both the U.S. and the global economy.
Some in our “Sound Bite Society” have gone so far as to suggest that the entire problem - the entire blame can be laid at the hands of African Americans who purchased “sub-prime” mortgage products for homes they could not afford. The theory is that when the time came to make the mortgage payment, the borrowers were unable to pay and our economy collapsed. I know- we need to pause and think about how silly that sounds; yet we must also acknowledge our personal complicity regarding the economic decisions we made for our families and our communities.
Acknowledging the importance of our economic decisions will allow for a quicker return to rebuilding the wealth in our community. It is no secret that the fastest way to wealth is through the ownership of appreciating assets. Let me stipulate for the economic “purist” reading this article that I understand having a mortgage is not the same as owning your home; however, investing in an appreciating asset is much healthier economically than spending your hard earned dollars paying your landlords mortgage.
Indeed the landlord’s role is essential in many communities given the current fear that is expressed by many in our community of owning a home. The fear is a reality that must be addressed in tandem with the lack of wealth being created as a result of the fear of owning one’s home.
To address the prevailing fear of homeownership will require a renewed focus on the rebuilding of affordable and sustainable communities. When we think of our first place of shelter that we can recall, all of us can agree on the many lessons learned in that first place we called home. Whether we lived in an apartment, a single family home, a duplex or we lived on a farm, we learned much from that environment. It was in the home that we learned about education, we learned about the economy (our economy), we learned how to be neighborly, we learned about recreation, it was in the home that we learned about the roots of our faith, and we learned about punishment and justice (including solitary confinement!).
All of what we learned in our initial places of shelter must be a part of the collective conversation for rebuilding wealth in our communities through home ownership. While we may disagree on the causes of the 2008 economic collapse, none dare to deny the overwhelming and disastrous impacts of the collapse on the African American community.
The African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child” should stand as a call to action for each one of us. Our economists, bankers, politicians, pastors, teachers, artists, actors, musicians, lawyers, doctors, businesspersons, journalists, baby boomers, generation x and millennials and you reading this article must share your talents as we work to rebuild and restore our communities, our homes, our wealth. Homeownership matters!!!
Pastor Keith D. Wright is a licensed real estate agent with Keller Williams Realty in the state of Maryland. If you have questions regarding homeownership contact Pastor Wright at RLDGROUPW@Verizon.net.