Fighting Housing Discrimination in New Mexico Will Take All of Us
Homeownership is for everyone, right? Unfortunately, that hasn’t always been the case. The housing industry as a whole has an ugly and complicated history of discrimination stretching back to slavery. Homeownership is one of the most efficient ways to build wealth yet, in late 2020, Black Americans had a 44.0% rate of homeownership, Hispanic Americans had a 49.0% rate of homeownership, and Asian, Native, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Americans had a 60.0% rate of homeownership. White Americans, on the other hand, had a 75.0% rate of homeownership. Between redlining, racial steering, and other discriminatory housing practices, generations of minorities have been barred from homeownership in New Mexico and beyond. For example, racist language is still prevalent in New Mexico homebuying documents today.
Housing Discrimination in New Mexico
Lan Sena, a New Mexico-born Asian American woman, was finalizing the purchase of a property near Albuquerque's Sandia Mountains in 2016 when a racist passage in the covenant stopped her in her tracks. “When we pulled up the deed of the property, it had that language in there that Asians and African Americans could not live on the land unless they were slaves,” Sena said.
While the 1968 passage of the Fair Housing Act prevents the enforcement of these and comparable problematic policies, similar language can be found in thousands of deeds across the Land of Enchantment. Though New Mexico does boast some of the highest rates of minority homeownership, particularly among Hispanic Americans, it’s not enough to settle on that laurel. A recent probe by one local news outlet actually found that Albuquerque “was once as segregated as the Deep South.”
Housing Discrimination Today
While the data may seem bleak, progress is unfolding across the housing industry. To combat the ugly effects of racial bias in homeownership, banks are now offering grants aimed at raising minority homeownership rates, individuals across the nation are standing up in their communities, and NAR is working to provide their members with the tools for change.
“Last year, NAR worked with [The National Association of Real Estate Brokers] and the Urban Institute to develop a five-point framework to boost minority homeownership,” said NAR Vice President Vince Malta. “We’ve also developed innovative new training programs on implicit bias and confronting discrimination in real-life real estate scenarios… In January, we began implementing our new “ACT” plan – which emphasizes Accountability, Culture Change, and Training – designed to ensure REALTORSⓇ are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America. We’re also working with our partners to develop a second ACT plan that advocates for housing policy that addresses systemic discrimination and the legacy of housing segregation.”
How Can New Mexico Real Estate Agents Fight Housing Discrimination?
With change on the horizon, there’s no better time to become an advocate in your community. Work to recognize and shed your own racial biases, volunteer, donate, and be sure to report any discrimination you may come across in the field. After all, securing universal equity in homeownership will take all of us!
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