Has the color of your skin ever prevented you from renting an apartment or owning a home?

While people of color have made significant movement in the middle class and their growing economic power has benefitted housing markets nationwide, many in the St. Cloud area community have faced this stark reality and struggled to claim one of the basic necessities of success.

At Create CommUNITY, we recognize the damage discrimination and extremely low home ownership rates among communities of color can have on the health, vitality and growth of the St. Cloud area community. With the help of a committed group of business, nonprofit and civic leaders, we are working to improve access to quality housing for communities of color and enhance our community’s prosperity.

Gaps

Home ownership rates seriously low among communities of color: 97% percent of the area’s owner-occupied homes are owned by Whites. (2000 Census)

Our Goal

Narrow the home ownership gap between people of color and white residents.Decrease housing discrimination in rental housing and lending practices. Increase opportunities for communities of color to have access to both rental housing and home ownership.

Accomplishments

Over the last two years, Create CommUNITY implemented and funded strategic activities to improve home ownership rates among communities of color and decrease discrimination.

FAIM (Family Assets for Independence in Minnesota) was granted Create CommUNITY funds to enroll ten households of color to purchase homes. The FAIM program assists low-income working adults save money for Higher Education, Home Purchase, or to Start a small Business. Six households of color have purchased homes and two more families are set to close on their homes soon. Work continues with more households of color to take money management classes, credit counseling to improve credit, and to finally purchase homes.

The St. Cloud Somali Salvation Organization (SASSO) received a grant from Create CommUNITY to develop home-ownership and home stretch training for more than a hundred community members. SASSO partnered closely with the African Development Center (ADC) and local Financial Counselors were trained and will continue to work with the clients that have completed the Homestretch program.

CommUNITY Table on Housing based on the Marnita’s table concept was held on Sunday, June 28, 2009 from 12:00 to 3:00 p.m. at the home of Beth & Jim Knutson-Kolodzne. The feast and dialogue on Access: The Meaning of Home was designed for the community to come together and connect across race, class and culture for conversation and fellowship. See album of pictures from the Marnita's Table website.

A Marnita’s Table intentional social interaction model was used for an in-depth conversation with property owners and managers to build awareness and understanding and open up topics regarding the role of systemic racism and how it affects people’s ability to have a home. See album of pictures from the Marnita's Table website

Future Plans

Expand Level 1 fair housing training by offering additional classes. [Level 1 presents the basics of rental housing laws such as protected classes, reasonable accommodation, etc.]

Offer Level 2 fair housing training. [Level 2 presents more information and discussion about systemic racism and issues related to housing access.]