How do we define home? For some, the definition of home is rooted in the spaces we live in, and for others, it’s rooted in the people around us that make us feel at home. Whichever perception prevails, it’s safe to say that when most people think of home they want to feel the love, safety and security that comes with the word. Many factors outside of the economy stand in the way of the dream to own a home for millions of Americans. These factors increase if you have low income, poor credit or are a minority. For many Americans, owning a home may seem impossible, but with the right resources a foundation can be laid that overcomes these obstacles, allowing more people to achieve their dream. One realtor from Mobile, Alabama, has set out to close that gap and open up that dream to these disadvantaged groups.
The issues that Chenele Chapman noticed in Africatown, a historic community in her hometown of Mobile, Alabama, are issues that so many other communities in America are facing. The barrier to homeownership is a concern for low to moderate income earners and minorities. In the U.S., African American homeownership rates are hovering around the same rates they were when housing discrimination was legal. Two years following the 1968 Housing Discrimination Act, approximately 42% of African Americans were homeowners. Reports from the most recent census in 2007 show that rate has stalled at 41%.
Many factors have contributed directly to these low homeownership rates, including policy changes to discriminatory practices. Redlining is an example, making it difficult for even qualified African Americans to take advantage of government-backed mortgages. Today many potential homeowners are still facing the same issues.
When we think of realtors, traditionally we focus on the job alone, but in reality the job requires so much more. Realtors help to connect people to the social and economic benefits that homeownership brings while making a lasting effect on the landscape of the communities they serve. For Chenele, building community is about taking care of those who take care of you.
After starting a foundation with her father in Africatown and while helping to take care of her uncle, Chenele was able to see the impact the loss of homeownership had to the low income and minority community. Homes were run down and dilapidated, there were no affordable homes for the workforce, and the communities where African Americans once thrived were now beyond recognition. Chenele used this experience to redirect her passion for serving people into her mission to serve the community.
Before Chenele’s uncle passed, she made him a promise that she would take care of the friends and community that helped take care of him during his last days. This pact meant more than just words to Chenele, it was the start of a mission. In her efforts to build the community through homeownership for low income, moderate income, and minority borrowers, she wanted to take it a step further. While diminishing vacancies, Chenele also set out to leverage the buying power of investors to help revitalize these communities.
“We care about the people. It’s more than just selling a home. We care about one another as an organization and we care about the community as a whole.”
Africatown is one place that’s been positively impacted by Chenele Chapman but there’s more work to be done. The issues that Chenele noticed in Africatown are issues that so many other communities in America are currently facing.
Chenele is a realtor who’s stepping up as an ally for her clients and her community. Her vision is not simply to sell houses, but to help people find the vision, peace, safety and security homeownership offers. For Chenele, being a real estate agent is about deepening her impact on the community. It’s about using everything available to be a resource to those who need you.
To find out more about and work with Chenele, check out her website for more informatioion.
Sources: https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwake/2019/05/16/the-shocking-truth-about-the-u-s-black-homeownership-rate-50-years-after-the-1968-fair-housing-act/#342c5f6e63ba, https://www.forbes.com/sites/brendarichardson/2019/08/11/five-key-facts-that-underscore-the-alarming-crisis-in-black-homeownership/#51177fc68d5d, https://www.huduser.gov/portal/periodicals/em/fall12/highlight1.html, https://www.forbes.com/sites/brendarichardson/2019/08/11/five-key-facts-that-underscore-the-alarming-crisis-in-black-homeownership/#169a859e68d5