We value our community above all else.
When our neighborhoods prosper, we prosper.
When our people succeed, we succeed.
And when our communities rise, we rise.
In addition to being a licensed Realtor and Broker, I am a Landlord, Real Estate Investor, and Flipper with over 25 years experience in the real estate industry. Also, I recently completed the Michigan Builder’s License Course and awaiting my state exam to become a licensed builder in the state of Michigan.
Please explain what it was you did to help your community.
I have a passion for helping people in undeserved communities realize the American dream of home-ownership. I am the second African-American woman to own an independent brokerage in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and I learned under the lineage of the first African-American Broker in Kalamazoo, Willie Mae Pierson. My husband, Kenneth, and I now own 40 rental units in Kalamazoo, where we house over 100 people. Many of our tenants come to us with less than stellar credit, past evictions and low income. We pride ourselves on being 2nd (and 3rd) chance landlords. We understand that people make mistakes and everyone deserves another chance. In addition to providing safe and stable housing, we help our tenants rebuild their lives by offering them financial literacy, budgeting, credit building and repair, and other resources to build self confidence, self-reliance and self esteem so they can be more self-sufficient, more successful and so they can prepare to become future homeowners, if they so choose.
What distinguishes you from the mainstream realtor?
What distinguishes me from the mainstream, is that I am 100% committed to educating people, especially people of color, about the importance of owning real estate. It’s impossible to address poverty and the wealth gap in America in the absence of addressing the housing gap in America. Education is the key to unlocking home ownership and ownership holds the key to wealth building. Ultimately, owning property is essential to building wealth. Here are just some of my “WHY’s:”
1. Home ownership is the cornerstone of building generational wealth in America.
2. 73% of whites are homeowners vs. 41% of Blacks.
3. Black home ownership rates continue to decline each year from a high of 49% in 2004 to 41% in 2019. (Mainly as a result of the housing collapse)
4. Minorities disproportionately lost their homes to foreclosure during the housing collapse due to predatory lending practices.
5. The average age of white first-time home buyers is early 30’s while the average age for black first-time home buyers is 48.
6. 1 in 5 Black women have been evicted vs 1 in 15 white women
7. The net worth of whites is 10 times greater than the net worth of blacks.
8. Equity in real estate is a large contributor to net worth.
9. Red-lining, discrimination, and other systemic policies/practices still play a significant role in housing disparities and access.
I also recently finished my first book titled “Princess Mackie Buys a House” to introduce the concept of home ownership to 3rd to 5th grade girls because I noticed children’s literature is sorely lacking in the area of real estate and home ownership. My book is among the first children’s books about real estate. The story follows Princess Mackie, a 7-year old girl, and her mother through their home-buying journey. Through this story, children will gain a better understanding of the path to home-ownership. It is imperative to plant seeds of home-ownership early and often, so that children can understand this as a true possibility for them in the future. The book will be released Winter 2020.
What prompted you to take this action?
My service in this lifetime is bigger than selling real estate and providing housing. I long to see revitalized neighborhoods and increased home-ownership in under served populations and communities. I possess an extreme passion for educating, serving and beautifying neighborhoods within my community, and to witness home-ownership increase in the black and brown communities. I work tirelessly to provide affordable housing options for low-wage workers and those with barriers to securing safe and dignified housing–including credit challenges, past evictions, and high debt-to-income ratios. I am actively working in many capacities to change the narrative and spread knowledge and hope where needed most.
Who will this action help/benefit?/How do you think this will make a difference?
Simply put, in continuing to educate the youth and my surrounding communities on the vast myriad of reasons for owning a home, it will help to close the extreme gap between wealth and poverty in our country. This is essential in our turbulent landscape in America. Affordable housing for everyone provides familial stability, equanimity in culture, less mental illness due to anxiety and stress, and overall life happiness. These factors make all the difference in the ways our communities and children perceive their futures and the world.
What are your hopes for the future?
I have come up with a 40.40.40 challenge for myself. The goal is to help 40 families of color under 40 years old become homeowners within 40 months! In order to achieve this I am committed to continue working with my very diverse group of clients from all walks of life, but I will further specifically track my progress with my 40 under 40 clients. If I can get ten other realtors on board, this initiative could impact 400 families! That’s no small feat! It all starts with a vision and I intend to continue my service.
I’d also like to share a very recent and devastating story, but one that still carries an intense flame of hope. In August of 2019 I purchased a large fixer-upper historic home on the Northside of Kalamazoo, considered by many to be one of the least desirable neighborhoods in the city of Kalamazoo. The home was in extreme disrepair and had been vacant for over a decade. I had a vision to restore this beautiful historic home to include four units of much needed affordable housing, a small community tea house, and a Girls Build Kalamazoo construction trades program to introduce the trades to middle and high-school girls on the Northside of Kalamazoo. This program would empower girls and help them build confidence.
On June 2, 2020, that vision was eradicated as I watched the home go up in flames as a result of arson during the rioting in Kalamazoo. Three hours later the city razed the property to the ground, and all of the historic artifacts in it. I saw this house as a connecting force between communities that otherwise might not engage with one another.
My parents have lived in the same house on the Northside of Kalamazoo for almost 60 years. I love my community with the whole of my being. I continue to invest primarily within the Northside community. That big yellow community house, which I nicknamed “The Grand Lady” that I knew and loved since I was a young girl, was birthed out of this great love for my community, and all of the people that reside here. The dream for this property and this block began long before I was able to purchase the property. I had been driving by it for years, brainstorming how it could be renovated to best serve the community. The devastation and heartbreak behind this loss may never be understood by many. But the community that knew what it was to be, came out in numbers to offer condolences, encouragement and support of this dream. I am a very positive person and the fact is, I still own that land, and I am determined to rebuild! Nothing, not even arson, will deter a dream. In fact, it will only make it stronger, brighter and bigger. I believe the new property will have a greater positive impact on the community than the former property would have. Evil will not win, Hate will not win–In the end, love wins!