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St. Louis home expo offers sessions to help Black people buy homes

Cars line Walnut Avenue in St. Louis’ Walnut Park neighborhood on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
A month after the St. Louis Realtors Association made a public apology to Black people for its role in practicing discrimination, the group's members are planning to help Black families who want to buy homes. On Wednesday, the association will host a homebuying expo at St. Louis Community College-Forest Park.

Real estate agents in St. Louis are taking steps to ensure that more African Americans are able to buy homes, a month after acknowledging that their industry long discriminated against Black people.

At a homebuying expo Wednesday, the St. Louis Realtors Association will offer workshops on financial literacy and other topics that could help families buy homes. The expo is one of the 22 initiatives the association created to promote Black homeownership.

Many Black potential homebuyers want to know how to prepare, St. Louis Realtors President Katie Berry said.

“I think often things start with knowledge,” Berry said. “And so by coming, we can get you to get connected with the knowledge that you need to be able to move forward with homeownership.”

The 10 a.m. event at the St. Louis Community College-Forest Park Student Center will include sessions on budgeting, repairing credit scores and the homebuying process. It will also include workshops on estate planning and home maintenance and repair.

Attendees can ask questions to Realtors, lenders, bankers and attorneys about requirements for purchasing a home. Representatives from the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis, Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, Vacancy Collaborative, Beyond Housing and other organizations will be available to assist residents with financial tools and resources.

Lending institutions and community organizations must provide information to Black St. Louisans whom Realtors have long discriminated against, because that could help close the homeownership gap, said Chris Kreymeyer, president of Beyond Housing, a community housing organization.

“As a region, we have to be significantly committed from a resource standpoint to invest in families and places that have been left behind for so long,” Kreymeyer said.

White St. Louisans are nearly twice as likely as Black St. Louisans to own homes. Across the country,Black homeownership rates are nearly the same today as they were in 1968 when Congress passed the Federal Fair Housing Act.

Kreymeyer said financial literacy can help Black families in the region who for decades faced obstacles when trying to buy a home.

Realtors Association officials say they have worked through over half of the 22 initiatives since the apology, including proposed legislation to create a land bank in St. Louis County to address vacancy, hiring a diversity, equity and inclusion manager and training members in fair housing practices.

“It’s a beginning process to say, ‘Look, when we think about equity of opportunity to ensure that we're trying to get after, again, all the consequences that systemic racism brought up in this region’,” Kreymeyer said.

Follow Andrea on Twitter: @drebjournalist

Andrea covers race, identity & culture at St. Louis Public Radio.