Monday, September 5, 2011

First Guest Post, Jon Gail: Time to Tackle the Root Cause.

As I said in June HERE, I was looking to add housing related guest posts from others, so long as they weren't rants etc. 

Today I am pleased to add the first guest post from Jon Gail. Jon is a long time respected colleague who previously served as the SF bond program manager for the State of Oregon and also as a Community Outreach and Information Rep. for the Portland Housing Bureau. After leaving the agency this summer he started First, a new website focused on connecting first-time home buyers to related federal, state and local home buying programs. Jon is also a long time board member for the African American Alliance for Homeownership/AAAH.

Oregon Housing Blog Guest Post: 
Time to Tackle the Root Cause

The recent article in the Oregonian by Hannah Nikole-Jones and research by Tom Cusack show that despite population growth fewer black households in Portland own homes in 2010 than owned homes in 2000.   This fact is disturbing especially when you consider that a lot of people in the housing industry, including myself, have invested significant time and resources attempting to increase the African American home ownership rates in Portland over the past decade.   Clearly our efforts failed and a new approach is desperately needed.
The fundamental flaw in our approach is that we are not tackling the root cause of the problem.  In order to afford to buy and maintain a home in Portland, most of us require a stable and relatively high paying job or perhaps two decent paying jobs.   To get a high paying or at least a decent paying job, one needs to have the necessary certifications, skills, experience and opportunity to be hired for these better paying jobs.    
Therefore, in order to eventually raise the home ownership rates for African Americans in Portland, the goals first need to be to lower the unemployment rates, increase the household incomes, lower the drop-out rates, increase the levels of educational attainment, and eliminate the economic and other barriers that African Americans face when attempting to prepare for, get and keep a family wage job. 
We also need to better align our social support systems of housing, welfare, insurance, and education to enhance and develop the long-term self-sufficiency and employment opportunities for African American households.  Improved collaboration is needed among our social support agencies and systems to help African American households to not to just survive, but to thrive in Portland. 
While addressing the root cause of the problem may seem daunting, it is the only way we are going to have a chance to make a positive change to these disturbing disparities.  It is time to start a fresh new approach to closing the African American home ownership rate gap by helping African Americans secure good paying jobs and earn a decent living.  Once we do that, improved home ownership rates will follow.

Originally published on the Oregon Housing Blog.

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