In the fall of 2018, I had the opportunity to travel to Puerto Rico for a conference addressing the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. I had just started at NAHREP and was still getting acclimated to the culture of the organization. During that trip, I had the opportunity to get to know the Puerto Rico chapter well. It was through conversations with NAHREP leaders like Eric Haddock, Francisco Fernández, Enrique Morales, and Ivelisse Lopez, that it clicked for me that there was so much more to NAHREP than meets the eye.
NAHREP is squarely focused on bridging the wealth gap, and we know homeownership is one of the most critical strategies for building generational wealth. According to the State of Hispanic Wealth Report, Latino homeowners have 28 times the wealth as Latino renters, with Latino homeowners having a median household wealth of over $170,000 versus over $6,000 for Latino renters. However, we also want to make sure that Latinos are reaping the same rewards from homeownership as other groups on our road toward wealth creation. This is why the issue of appraisal bias is so important. How much a home is appraised for determines how much equity an individual can derive from owning a home.
Latinos are twice as likely to purchase a home using Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans compared to non-Hispanic White households. However, Latino households using FHA loans faced the steepest hurdles in getting their offers accepted last year. If you read the 2021 State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, you know that Latinos were 81 percent more likely to get denied for conventional home purchase loans than non-Latinos, so for many first-time homebuyers, FHA loans were the only option.
If you have read the State of Hispanic Homeownership Report, you’ll know that Latinos have been the engine behind population growth in America. Today, Latinos are the second largest racial/ethnic group in the U.S., second only to the non-Hispanic White population. Why am I bringing this up? Because something very consequential is happening right now that is directly tied to population and political power: the redistricting wars. And all of us should be paying close attention.
At NAHREP, we divide our time in terms of conferences. Familia gatherings at the National Convention & Housing Policy Summit and NAHREP at L’ATTITUDE are two annual milestones for the policy department because they each mark the release of our reports, the State of Hispanic Homeownership Report and the State of Hispanic Wealth Report. But, I also think of them as phases. The time right after each conference before we start writing our next report is when most of the major changes and initiatives for the advocacy wing of our organization get developed.
It’s State of Hispanic Wealth Report time!!! Every year, the Hispanic Wealth Project releases the State of Hispanic Wealth Report at NAHREP at L’ATTITUDE. This is the time of year when I try to clear my calendar and hunker down to write this thing. While I’m in the thick of analyzing the new data, I wanted to give you all a preview of what will be released next month. But first, let’s do a recap of the Hispanic Wealth Project.
Hi. My name is Noerena, some call me Noe. Mi familia es Mexicana and my parents immigrated to this country in the 70s and 80s. They, like the majority of people who came to the U.S., came to this country in search of opportunity. The immigrant story and the plight for immigration reform has been a driving force in my life. However, as a Latina-American, I care just as much about justice and freedom for my Cuban brothers and sisters marching on the streets of Havana right now as I care about my Texan DACA recipients (many who are part of our NAHREP familia) who have been told by the state government that DACA is illegal. El pueblo Latino is one.
Who saw In the Heights? If you haven’t, que carajos esperan? Listen up, if we want representation in Hollywood, and we want to change the narrative about Latinos, showing up at the box office when we’re on the main screen is the least we can do. Lin Manuel Miranda shared our stories, one of familia, comunidad, and powerful sueñitos that keep us alive and hungry (in a good way). “Start small, dream big.” Isn’t that how we all got started? Seeing those choreographed scenes of beautiful Latino faces dancing to the vibrant beat of our music, filled my heart in a way few things have during this past year.
Last year, our CEO Gary Acosta and the NAHREP National Board of Directors set a number of audacious goals for our organization that pertain to the broader Latino community: Guide the Latino community to be among the wealthiest and most philanthropic in the nation; Build NAHREP to be the largest and most effective economic mobility organization in America; Incubate 1,000 new Hispanic millionaires and five new Hispanic billionaires; Help Latinos dominate the Fortune 500 boardrooms and C-Suites; Help elect the first Latino President of the United States of America. At the National Advocacy Committee, our work is directly tied to helping build NAHREP into the largest and most effective economic mobility organization in America. For that, we have to build strong relationships with elected officials.
As the daughter of immigrants, I tend to look at “Democracy” through the lens of my parents and my grandparents. I grew up hearing stories of how the Partido Revolucionario Institucional (PRI), the party that dominated Mexico for 71 years, would go into the “ranchos,” or rural Mexico where my family comes from, and buy people off prior to elections by giving them free washing machines or refrigerators in exchange of votes.