A group of Black homeowners in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) have banded together to encourage more Black homeownership.
Their Ownership Matters group reaches 1,200 Black DMV homeowners via GroupMe and 70,000 nationwide members in the social media platform Clubhouse.
“We’re committed to building a community of property and business owners worldwide through education, counseling, facilitating networking, referring professionals for services, and sharing financial resources and grants for aspiring homeowners,” according to the group’s mission statement.
Black homeownership is in a dire state. The U.S. homeownership rate has spiked 1.3 percent to 65.5 percent in 2020 – the highest annual increase ever, according to the National Association of Realtors. Those in some 2.6 million more households became homeowners compared to 2019. Yet the homeownership rate for Black Americans (43.4 percent) is lower than in 2010 (44.2 percent) and nearly 30 percentage points below that of white Americans (72.1 percent).
The average Black household income in D.C. could afford just 8.4 percent of district homes sold between 2016 and 2020, while the average white household could afford 71 percent of the same houses, according to the Urban Institute.
Ownership Matters wants to change this. The group works to do so by promoting Black ownership and providing education and tools to help potential Black homeowners buy property.
In 2018, Gregory Jackson started Ownership Matters with group chats of about 20 friends. During the chats, they encouraged one another to build wealth through homeownership. Now it includes a community of Black homeowners, landowners and business owners across the U.S. They get together online to share lessons, challenges and resources through virtual platforms, including GroupMe, Clubhouse and Instagram. Today, not only has the number of chat users increased, it now includes a trove of millennials averaging 30 years of age.
One of those millennials is Alexis White, 26. White started the home-buying process in 2020. She wanted a multi-family property valued at $750,000. She joined Ownership Matters in 2022, and she told The Washington Informer that through the Ownership Matters chats on GroupMe she learned about equity loans and business credit cards — instead of investing with personal savings and credit cards. She also learned she could boost her income by renting via Airbnb and city-funded grants.
Initially, the group planned in-person gatherings. During the COVID-19 pandemic, it pivoted to virtual spaces Among the virtual offerings the group has are: “Becoming Debt Free,” “House Versus Condo: Pros and Cons,” and, for prospective homeowners, “Buying Your First Home.”
Jackson said, “Major challenges to homeownership include getting outbid, outpriced or losing to cash offers.”
He said D.C. still offers an available market for prospective homebuyers but only for homes in the Southeast, where properties remain the most affordable.