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The Mortgage Bankers Association's 2021 Spring Conference and Expo kicked off today and with it came a strong message from Susan Stewart, MBA chairwoman, chief executive officer of SWBC Mortgage Corporation. In Stewart's address to attendees, she stated that the MBA is looking to tackle the issue of minority homeownership, an issue she says has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"When I chose this topic, I broke with tradition," said Stewart. "Previous chairs typically chose three focus areas, not one. But these aren't normal times, and this isn't a normal cause. For the mortgage industry, I believe minority homeownership is the issue of our time."
According to Stewart, nationally, the homeownership rate is around 65% however, Black homeownership rates are only 44%, which is near a 50-year low. For Hispanics, the homeownership rate isn't much better, at 49%, and for Asians, it's 59%.
Steve O'Connor leads the MBA's Affordable Housing team and Stewart says that the association also created two advisory councils, one for affordable homeownership and one for affordable rental housing. Stewart added that the MBA has been hard at work during the pandemic, mostly making sure that folks are aware of their options in the face of forbearance and other housing-related difficulties. The association also created a program called "Convergence," which brings together stakeholders from across the industry and communities to find real solutions to housing problems. The pilot project started a year ago in Memphis and the MBA is looking to bring it to Columbus, OH.
"One of our most important efforts is MBA's Minority Homeownership Joint Taskforce," said Stewart. "The task force includes members from RESBOG and our Affordable Homeownership Advisory Council. For the past four months, they've been hard at work drafting a comprehensive report with actionable policy recommendations. These recommendations will provide the basis for an MBA policy and advocacy campaign on minority homeownership. We're calling it 'Building Minority Wealth Through Homeownership.' It's focused on two main areas. The first is reducing barriers to minority first-time homeownership and preserving wealth. The second is addressing the trust gap and supporting financial education for homebuyers and homeowners. Both issues are crucial to strengthening minority homeownership, and in both areas, we'll offer concrete policy ideas."
Stewart says the MBA intends on taking all of its recommendations to the White House, Congress, the Capitol and the "alphabet soup of federal agencies."
"When I step aside later this year, MBA's next chair will be Kristy Fercho," said Stewart. "She's a leader on this issue who will double down on what we're doing. She'll make great strides to expand minority homeownership nationwide."
Click here for Stewarts full remarks regarding the MBA's plans to address minority homeownership.