‘Locked Out’ Discussion on Black Homeownership Draws Crowd

‘Locked Out’ Discussion on Black Homeownership Draws Crowd

On February 26, about sixty people joined ACTS Housing as it hosted its panel discussion “Locked Out: Solutions to the Black Homeownership Decline” at the Wisconsin Black Historical Society, 2620 W. Center.

Panelists for the evening were: Adam Carr, Deputy Editor for the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service; Bill Tisdale, President & CEO for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council; Danell Cross, Executive Director of Metcalfe Park Community Bridges, Inc. The panel was moderated by Dorothy York, ACTS Housing’s Associate Director.

The panel came on the heels of the 2018 community-wide reading of The Color of Law which examined the federal, state, and municipal policies that kept African-Americans from participating in homeownership.

The legacy of those laws was a pointed feature in the discussion.

Carr, who co-led the city’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the March on Milwaukee, showed a few photos and news clips that illustrated the pervasiveness of housing discrimination in the city.

“It is important because this happened on the streets of our city,” Carr said. “One of the most important civil rights movements of our time happened in Milwaukee…we don’t talk about that largely because of white shame and the fact that we don’t want to admit that our institutions were built on racism.”

Tisdale echoed those sentiments.

“Property is, in fact, what leads to wealth…these institutions were designed to institute division, and maintain that division,” Tisdale said.

Cross urged creativity to get African-Americans into homeownership and to keep the community in mind.

“Start investing in human capital. People can’t keep up with the income requirements of these banks. The excuse is if they don’t have the money they shouldn’t own a home, but we got people spending $1200 a month on rent, we’ve got people who can own a home,” Cross said. “We have to push the City and businesses to think differently and tell them, if you aren’t going to support the community, we won’t support you.”

Tisdale stressed the need for education.

“Homebuyer counseling and education is key. Residents need to know what it takes and what to do, that’s key.”

Cross believes the solution is in stakeholders being active in the community.

“ACTS Housing came to our community and did a presentation…ACTS is showing them up, showing that all the excuses are just that: excuses,” she said. “ACTS is trusting people that nobody else trusts. They are lending money that no one else will lend to.”



Deon Delivers For Families

Deon Delivers For Families

Deon Price says he plans to stay at ACTS until it no longer exists or he passes away—either way he’s in it for the long haul.

Having grown up in East St. Louis, Ill., he said he knows first-hand the effects of disinvestment on a community.

“The community I grew up in is no longer there,” he said. A commercial trucking company bought the land in the community and are attempting to push the remaining residents out.

“It’s one big, vacant landfill now,” he said. “There’s nothing there.”

Prior to coming to ACTS, Deon worked at another firm. He says he primarily worked with working-class families who made ends meet earning $10 to $17 per hour.  ACTS was a natural fit as empowering families became part of his core values.

“It’s satisfying working with someone who’s never owned a home before,” he said.

He remembers fondly a family he worked with who thought they couldn’t own a home.

“[I remember] the look on their faces when they found out they had an accepted offer. It was emotional,” he said.

Those in his circle of influence look to him for advice on real estate. As a father of six and former airman in the Air Force, it’s a role he’s settled in to nicely.

He plans to expand his reach and to veterans.

“A lot of veterans who have served have a hard time finding a place to stay,” he said. The issue is even more salient now. Deon’s 23-year-old son, Danny, is currently serving in the Marines in Hawaii and has one year left.

“I told him before he enlisted to save up for these things,” he said.

The ACTS realtor, advisor to many, father to six, photographer, veteran and martial arts teacher has many titles, but the title he holds in high-esteem: husband.

He and his wife have been married for twenty years.

The secret? Put the other person first.

“Always think about the other person,” he said. “Never think only of yourself.”

Acts Housing’s mission is to promote affordable home ownership that fosters a low-income family’s ability to be self-empowered, thereby reducing community blight, neighborhood deterioration, and poverty. Acts’ strategy is to generate home ownership opportunities for inner-city residents within a targeted neighborhood so that an entire community can be transformed and sustained. Acts’ team provides home buying services throughout the city of Milwaukee.
2414 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee, WI 53205 USA 391837474