Foreign and domestic relations panel challenges disparities in homeownership

Minnesota’s changing demographics brings issues of disparity in homeownership, so on Thursday, Jan. 23, a panel of minority housing representatives sought to reduce disparities within the Twin Cities.

The panel was hosted by the Minnesota Association of Realtors (MNAR), and consisted of representatives from the Hmong, American, Native American and Gay/Lesbian communities.

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“The goal of the panel was to start having a conversation about communities of color and homeownership,” said chair of the MNAR Diversity Committee, Nene Matey-Keke. “In order to do that, we had people and organizations who represent these communities come to the table to share their perspective and dialogue.”

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An opening presentation by Chris Galler preceded the panel discussion. Galler talked about how ethnicity, race, stability of home life, family traditions, the economy and level of education influence home ownership. His in-depth presentation prompted many audience questions, which transitioned to the panel discussion.

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According to the panel, homeownership challenges that all these communities face are rooted in the education and workforce sectors. Peoples in these communities face barriers in everything from credit issues to first-generational factors when it comes to buying a home.

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“I think the answers will build over time as people start to see things transform in front of them,” said Matey-Keke. He hopes the conversation will increase to include more industries and government on all levels. “This conversation isn’t unique to Minnesota,” he said.

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Over 20 people were in the audience for the event, which was $15 to attend. Panelists included Nick Yang, housing program coordinator for Hmong American Partnership; Brenda Bailey, director of real estate development for Model Cities; Bill Ziegler, president and CEO of Little Earth of United Tribes; and Barbara Satin, assistant faith work director for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.