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‘State of Housing in Black America’ Report Released in Birmingham

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From left: Ed Harris of NAREB membership committee; LaTonya Butler, NAREB Membership Chair talk with Nick Walton, Build Up Bham, about becoming a member of NAREB. (Marika N. Johnson, For The Birmingham Times)

Keisa Sharpe-Jefferson

The Birmingham Times

Looking back when she and her husband bought their home in Adamsville AL, 17 years ago, Tambra Clark now calls it a bum investment.

“When we went to apply for a mortgage, the number they gave us, we just took it and ran,” said Clark. “We didn’t do our research. It was a big mistake. Over the years, we ended up becoming upside down on our equity.”

Clark was among more than 1,000 attendees that included community leaders, realtors and residents, for the Building Black Wealth Summit (BBWS) at New Rising Star Baptist Church, or The Star, on Saturday where the church’s pastor, Thomas Beavers, inspired with one simple statement: “Knowledge is power, so get you some knowledge.”

That’s what the Clark’s were doing to avoid the real estate mistakes of the past.

Clark, 41, is Joliet, Illinois native who came to Birmingham to attend Miles College in 2002. She graduated in 2006 with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood elementary education and works as a library media specialist at Southampton K-8.

And even though Clark, her husband and four children still stay at that Adamsville home, she attended the wealth summit to “gain knowledge and see what resources are out there, especially for homebuying and grants” in order to have a better experience in purchasing their next home.

Birmingham is the second stop as part of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers’ (NAREB) 100-city wealth summit tour with the Birmingham Realtist Association serving as its local host chapter.

On Thursday, NAREB released its annual State of Housing in Black America (SHIBA) report, which showed, despite record low unemployment for African Americans, that the community still faces significant hurdles including inadequate supply of homes, discriminatory practices, and economic disparities.

At the summit on Saturday, Clark was joined by individuals like Johnny and Kenesia Garth, members of The Star, who attended the summit to get information on “getting our credit together and being first-time homeowners.”

They have five children and a grandson in their blended family.

NAREB Realtist, Shay Mitchell, speaks with attendee Brenda Holder about homeownership. (Marika N. Johnson, For The Birmingham Times)

Johnny, 52, said his interest also involved property he inherited. Like his mother passed her Birmingham home on to him – which is where they currently live – he wants to do the same with his eldest son.

“My mom left me a house when she passed in January (of this year), but she left owing money on it,” he said. “So we’re also here today to see how we can get that situation taken care of, too.”

In addition to speaking one-on-one with counselors, and getting an opportunity to get a first-hand look at their own credit scores, attendees could also attend various workshops including “Black Men Buy Houses, Too” and “What to do with Grandma’s House.”

Attendees included Ronnie Devoe of the group New Edition, as the celebrity ambassador for the summit, addressed the audience before they dispersed for workshops.

Devoe admitted his family “didn’t have any discussions on buying a home when he was growing up,” but shared he learned about the power of real estate quickly when he doubled his investment on the first home he purchased for his mom in California to $400,000 from $200,000.

Bernard Buggs, a Birmingham entrepreneur and member of The Star spoke to the importance of the event in an interview.

“Building Black wealth helps our culture as Black people. It gives a head start for future generations to continue building,” he said. “The summit is absolutely important to acquire the knowledge of homeownership, the people involved and resources to make it happen.”

For more information on NAREB, visit https://www.nareb.com.