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(—The home mortgage industry across the U.S., now on “sound footing” since the crisis of 2007, is still leaving prospective homeowners behind, according to a recent Harvard University study.

“By many metrics, the U.S. housing market in 2018 is on sound footing,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies in the center’s annual “State of the Nation’s Housing” report. “But a number of challenges highlighted in the first ‘State of the Nation’s Housing’ report 30 years ago persist today, and in many respects the situation has worsened for both the lowest-income Americans and those higher up the income ladder.”

This dearth in homeownership—largely affecting African-Americans—is the reason that an upcoming annual conference is crucial says Marcia Griffin, founder and president of HomeFree-USA, a leader in home mortgage counseling. The 14th annual HomeFreeUSA Reaching Millions conference is set for Sept. 17 to Sept.19 in Washington, D.C.

The inspirational, educational and leadership development conference will feature nationally renowned speakers. They include author/speaker Stedman Graham, the Rev. Jamal-Harrison Bryant, gospel artist Bishop Marvin Sapp and the Rev. Dr. DeForest Blake “Buster” Soaries Jr., all aiming to teach and inspire financial independence and debt-free lifestyles.

“This conference is a very important gathering of leaders—nonprofit, faith-based, government, mortgage and banking leaders,” said Griffin. “It’s crucial in order to elevate the issue of homeownership in general but also the financial stature of people of color specifically. This conference delivers new ideas to capture the millions of potential homebuyers who want to buy but need guidance and encouragement. The unique aspect of the conference will be a mixture of education and inspiration with a goal of establishing a synergy for partnerships.”

Griffin continued, “We will all come together to learn from each other, and gain ideas to increase mortgage approvals and reduce denials among people of color. It is going to take partners working together to give homebuyers the kind of guidance they need to sustain homeownership and weather the financial challenges that arise in life.”

The conference is designed to do the following:

• Increase homeownership and financial success among low-to-moderate income people.

• Elevate the stature and increase the impact of government, nonprofit and for-profit housing and homeownership providers

• Create and strengthen public/private partnerships

The Reaching Millions conference is for professionals and leaders whose focus is on the following:

• Affordable lending

• Increasing homeownership in low-to-moderate income communities

• Personal and professional leadership development

• Developing new public and private partnerships to further their mission and expand affordable housing

• Ways to reach more qualified homebuyers

According to the latest stats from the U. S. Census Bureau, general homeownership rates in the second quarter of 2018 revealed significant room for growth. Overall, the rate is 64.3 percent in the second quarter of 2018, growing slightly by 0.6 percent from the first quarter.

However, a closer look at the Census Bureau breakdown of the homeownership rate by race shows communities of color still lagging far behind white homeowners, despite historic efforts to close the gap, including the Fair Housing Act of 1968. According to the Census Bureau, the following are the current stats broken down by race:

• Non-Hispanic white householders were highest at 72.9 percent.

• Asian, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander householders were second at 58.0 percent.

• Hispanic householders were at 46.2.

• Black householders were lowest at 41.6 percent.

“Although the changes in homeownership by race and ethnicity were seen as mostly positive, Black households are the one group that has made no appreciable progress,” said the Harvard Joint Center study.

This conference contributes to the efforts to turn these deplorable statistics around. Conference attendees will leave with a roadmap, partnerships and resources to capture the homebuyers we are leaving behind. Working together the mortgage industry, nonprofits and government leaders will be able to deliver the tools families need to become successful homeowners.

More information about the conference can be found at Contact for information on a limited number of discounted registrations.