JoAnne Poole discusses NAR proposals to close affordability, accessibility gaps for minority communities

Maryland Realtor® JoAnne Poole testified before the House Subcommittee on Housing, Community Development and Insurance this morning as the panel examined racial disparities in American homeownership. Poole, who has 33 years of experience throughout the Baltimore, Maryland, region is currently Vice Chair of the National Association of Realtors®’ Multicultural Real Estate Leadership Advisory Group. In her testimony, she highlighted NAR’s work to address some of the most disturbing trends in the U.S. housing market, particularly as African American and Hispanic homeownership rates of 41 and 47 percent, respectively, sit well below the national average of 64.2 percent.

“To many people in this country, homeownership is synonymous with the American Dream, creating stable communities, increasing civic participation and building our feelings of self-worth and self-esteem,” Poole told the House panel this morning. “If America is to remain a nation of homeowners, we must address the persistent barriers that minorities continue to face. NAR is working to close racial homeownership gaps by encouraging local governments to adopt zoning laws, building codes and other policies that encourage free market production of entry level homes and other affordable housing units.”

Poole was one of seven witnesses invited to testify at Wednesday’s hearing, including National Association of Real Estate Brokers President Jeffrey Hicks. Realtors® have partnered with NAREB as the group maintains a central and historic role highlighting the issues impacting minority homeownership in America.

NAR, NAREB and the Urban Institute recently convened a roundtable focused on improving African American homeownership rates. A five-point framework that can be applied across all minority communities emerged from that meeting, a framework which continues to drive additional policy discussions today.

“Priority should be placed on advancing local policy solutions; tackling housing supply and affordability; promoting equitable and accessible housing finance; reaching out to mortgage ready millennials and renters; and maintaining a focus on sustainable homeownership and preservation,” Poole said.

“NAR commends Chairman Clay and Ranking Member Duffy for facilitating critical discussions surrounding minority homeownership,” said NAR President John Smaby, a second-generation Realtor® and broker at Edina Realty in Edina, Minnesota. “Realtors® have fought for decades to keep the American Dream available to everyone in this country. That fight continues on Capitol Hill and in state legislatures across the country as we seek out policies that will close these persistent and unacceptable racial homeownership gaps.”

The National Association of Realtors® is America’s largest trade association, representing more than 1.3 million members involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries.