Reliable and affordable housing is a key part of the American Dream and a catalyst for generational wealth—something we all strive to build for our families. Unfortunately, many achievements of this significance are not equally accessible to everyone.
Narrowing Racial Homeownership Disparities Through Education and Counseling
In 1976, South Minneapolis faced development and zoning issues that impacted access to safe, stable, and affordable housing for low- to moderate-income residents. In response to these challenges, neighbors and activists joined to create the Powderhorn Residents Group (PRG). Today, PRG, Inc. proudly serves the seven-county Twin Cities metro area.
While opportunities, needs, and threats to housing have changed over the years, the consistent thread to PRG’s work has been a focus on resident-controlled housing.
“In the early days, that looked like cooperatives,” says Kathy Wetzel-Mastel, executive director of PRG. “Later, it was fulfilling an unmet housing need that was identified by residents, and today it is largely helping residents own their own homes.”
For the last 15 years, the organization has aimed its attention at addressing the substantial racial homeownership disparities prevalent in the area. These efforts include providing pre-purchase homebuyer education and advising, foreclosure prevention advising, and affordable housing development—as well as influencing public policy at the state and local levels.
When asked how PRG has changed people’s lives over the years, Wetzel-Mastel says, “That would probably be better answered by the young family who have affordable, stable housing for themselves and their young children in one of PRG’s cooperatives. Or by the Black grandmother who was able to remain in the home she had owned for years after running into financial hardship. Or by the aging LGBTQ folks who feared returning to the closet and now live at Spirit on Lake. Or by the hundreds of families of color who now own their own home, many of whom are first-generation homeowners.”
Overcoming the Hurdles of Homeownership
Despite their mounting successes, PRG encounters frequent obstacles to securing the public funding and other resources needed to accomplish their mission.
However, as Wetzel-Mastel explains, it’s the community’s “would-be” homebuyers who—even 47 years after the creation of PRG—continue to face the real challenges.
“As though hundreds of years of policy and practice aimed at preventing people of color from owning their own home weren’t enough, people are now experiencing a trifecta of new barriers—historically low inventory, increasing market values, and soaring interest rates,” she says.
Thankfully, the organization is made up of many determined individuals who are devoted to their mission-critical work. Each year, they help approximately 250 underserved residents of South Minneapolis get into their own homes and on the road toward building wealth.
Meet New Homeowner, Cheryl Daniel
After falling prey to a house-flipping scam 25 years ago, Cheryl Daniel and her three children ended up without a home. Following a stay in a homeless shelter, they were eventually able to move into an apartment. However, the painful experience left her believing she would never become a homeowner again.
Years later, unfulfilled by living in apartments and rental houses, Daniel found the inspiration and strength to try again. Through her work with PRG’s Homeownership Advisors to pay off her debts and improve her credit, Daniel accomplished her goal. She could finally afford to buy the house she was renting and turn her dreams into reality.
Stories like these have kept the organization going over the last several decades—but none of it would be possible without individual contributions from the community.
Contributed Income Opens the Door for New Opportunities and Innovation
Currently, contributed income from donations and grants represent 27% of PRG’s revenue. Wetzel-Mastel says her goal is to see that number grow to 30% by year-end.
“This type of income has few restrictions and helps us with the challenges we face, as well as allows us to act on new opportunities and try new approaches,” she says. “Without it, innovation and improvement would be really difficult.”
PRG celebrates the significant strides it has made toward narrowing the racial homeownership gap over the years. Even so, there is still a long way to go in ensuring that families of color are well-positioned to achieve affordable homeownership—or to remain in their homes when faced with challenges that prevent them from paying their mortgage.
“Nothing would make me happier than to say that in five, ten, or 15 years, PRG will have moved on to addressing some other critical part of the housing ecosystem—but I don’t think that is true,” says Wetzel-Mastel. “It took many, many years to create one of the largest racial homeownership disparities in the country, and it is going to continue to take collective and persistent work to eliminate it.”
Join Us in Support of PRG’s Mission-Critical Work
At Sunrise Banks, we are proud to serve PRG–an organization closely aligned with our business initiatives. As a socially responsible bank, we are committed to ensuring affordable housing in low- to moderate-income areas with commercial lending, and making homeownership possible for people who might not otherwise be able to purchase a home.
Are you interested in assisting the Powderhorn Residents Group (PRG) in their mission, and adding to the number of new homeowners of color they help annually? Monetary contributions—as well as donations of your time and talent—go a long way toward reducing racial inequities and closing the homeownership gap.
Join us in ensuring that PRG continues educating individuals on how to make better financial choices, creating families that thrive, and developing stronger communities throughout the region. Your help is greatly needed and appreciated. Learn more about PRG’s volunteer opportunities Off Site Link and how to make a tax-deductible donation in any amount Off Site Link today!