Listen The gap in home ownership between whites and racial minorities in Minnesota is among the worst in the nation
Although Minnesota leads the nation in rates of home ownership, a recent report found that people of color are much less likely to own houses than whites.
The report from the Minnesota Homeownership Center found that whites own homes at a rate of 77 percent, while non-whites have a rate of just 38 percent. That gap in home ownership is among the worst in the nation.
Nine Minnesota nonprofit groups are sharing $1 million in grants from Wells Fargo to close that home ownership gap.
Ed Nelson, marketing and communications manager for the Minnesota Homeownership Center in St. Paul, one of the nonprofits taking part in the effort, said it appears that much of the gap between white and non-white home ownership stems from other disparities.
"There's a cumulative gap here in Minnesota that goes beyond just housing issues," Nelson said. "That gap includes things like high school graduation rates, wealth achievement and certainly other things."
The nonprofit groups are going to try to address other disparities in hopes of closing the home ownership gap, Nelson said in an interview with MPR's All Things Considered Tuesday.
Nelson said home ownership appears to correlate with success in other parts of life, such as health or education.
"Home ownership has been traditionally the number one way that low to moderate-income families can obtain wealth," Nelson said. "It's something we can pass off to our kids -- it's generational."
Although rates of home ownership were set back by the Great Recession, a report released by the U.S. Commerce Department on Tuesday found that building permits were at a five-year high in the United States. Average house values have also been increasing.
Nelson said the numbers are good news for home ownership advocates because it might lead some people to consider becoming homeowners who otherwise wouldn't. But others may feel pressure to buy a house in the rising market, and risk a wrong financial move.
"We want to make sure that people get into sustainable ownership, that they're not just getting in because they think, 'Oh, here's a short term way to gain some money, or 'I'd better do it now or I'll never do it,'" Nelson said. "We never want people to be pressured for any reason to get into home ownership."
Minnesota's non-white population is on average younger than the white population, which Nelson said could help close the home ownership disparity gap because people tend to buy houses as they grow older.