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Black homeownership drops to 50-year low | Advice for better home buying

Federal statistics show the rate of homeownership in the Black community is 50%, while 70% of whites own their home.

ATLANTA — Black homeownership is at the lowest level nationwide since segregated housing was legal. 

Federal statistics show the rate of homeownership in the Black community is 50%, with only 20% of Black people under the age of 35 owning their home.

James Johnson finally realized his dream of owning a home. He moved into a southwest Atlanta neighborhood after getting a little help along the way. 

“I was taught homeownership by my parents, my mother, and my grandmother," Johnson said. “I actually used the Atlanta Housing Authority with their program to get a down payment assistance.”

Realtor Julian Jackson helped Johnson make his dreams of being a first-time homebuyer a reality. 

“With Caucasians, historically, they’ve had a lot more money in their community throughout history, and that affects what you’re putting in on an offer for a house," Jackson said.

Federal statistics show that the rate of homeownership for white people is 70%. Jackson said to equal the playing field, you need to get your finances in order years in advance.

“Work on having your down payment," Jackson said. "You want to make sure, depending on if you’re a 1099 worker or not, you have to have several years of taxes. You have to file your taxes.”

Live within your means if you're buying for the first time -- that's the advice being offered up by Jackson.

“They might see a house, and that might be that person’s third, fourth, fifth home," he said. "Your first house is not your final house.”

Some other tips to increase Black homeownership include homeownership counseling and using special purpose credit programs if needed. 

“When you own, you are building equity, and that is a form of wealth," Johnson said. "One thing we’ve learned is one reason Black wealth is less than white wealth is because so many of us are not homeowners.”

Johnson wanted to keep his money within the Black community. His contractors, real estate agent, and loan officer were all Black. 

Today’s Homeowner analyzed more than 10 years of homeownership data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Their analysis found Atlanta has a -17.2% Black homeownership gap, and Georgia has a Black homeownership gap of -25.1%.

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