A quick look at four industry influencers active in the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance, and what drives their dedication to this important work

By now, you’re likely familiar with the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance (HOA), a major part of the Center’s outreach and collaboration efforts around closing the racial homeownership gap in Minnesota. As a refresher, 77 percent of White households own their own home in our state, compared to 44 percent of households of color. The figure for Black households specifically is just 25 percent. The reasons for the gap are complex, and mired in historic overt and systemic racism. As society begins to understand how we got here, there’s a growing acknowledgement that this legacy, and the gap it’s left us with, needs to be addressed.

Today on the Welcome Home blog, we take a look at four homeownership industry influencers active in the HOA, and what drives their dedication to this important work.

Tessa Eddy (above far left) is the Community Manager at Chase in Minneapolis. She brings her expertise, outlook and listening skills to the HOA table on behalf of her employer. “Homeownership is a vehicle for stability,” Eddy says. “My parents lost their house to foreclosure in the 1980s, and so I think I missed out on some of that growing up. I bought my own house at age 20, and I realized the importance of stability and how it really impacts every aspect of your life. This is what connects me, what drives me in my work.” Eddy has a long track record of working with people to help them improve their lives, having spent time with Project for Pride in Living as a financial coach, at PRG as a homebuyer education trainer and on the Mdewakanton Sioux Reservation. Before coming to Chase, she spent nearly six years at another major bank in a similar position. “In my work, I really get to help people change the course of their lives,” Eddy says.

Eddy sees the HOA as a vehicle to assist Chase in achieving its goals in the homeownership space. “Banks have a responsibility to do their part to reduce the gap and increase homeownership among the Black and Brown population,” she says. “What I appreciate most is the fact that you have so many likeminded people, with the same goals, working together to amplify each other’s respective individual efforts. The approach the HOA is taking is innovative and holistic, and it isn’t happening in a lot of other places.”

Telly Mamayek (above second from left) is the Communications and Engagement VP at Minneapolis Area REALTORS® (MAR). Some readers may recognize her name, as she was a news anchor on WCCO Radio for many years. Mamayek also spent nearly nine years with the Minnehaha Creek Watershed District. “I’d say the jobs I’ve had over the course of my career all speak to my desire to make a difference,” she says. “My parents had me when they were very young, and so of course money was tight. They were renters, and then later on we moved in with my grandfather on his farm. When he passed away, my parents were able to acquire his farm. That’s the definition of generational wealth. Living there provided me with such stability growing up. Everyone should have equitable access to the stability and wealth-building that homeownership provides.”

When it comes to the HOA, Mamayek appreciates the opportunity to work with likeminded colleagues on closing the racial homeownership gap. “The gap is an atrocity,” she says. “It has to be eliminated. MAR is committed to that goal, and the HOA provides us a seat at an influential table actively pursuing real change.”

Roxanne Kimball (above second from right) is the Residential and Real Estate Development Manager at the City of Minneapolis Office of Community Planning and Economic Development. “I grew up in metro Detroit, and my parents rented the same apartment for most of my childhood,” Kimball shares. “When my parents got divorced, their lease was not renewed and we had to move. A couple years later, both of my parents bought their own homes. Owning transformed both of their lives, as well as my own.”

Kimball moved to Minnesota after college, and has spent her career working in the housing policy arena with stints at Eastside Neighborhood Development Company, Riverview Economic Development Association, and the City of St Paul prior to her current position. She’s also a current Homeownership Center Board member. “The issues facing Minneapolis and St Paul are very much the same,” she says. “These are communities still impacted today by past racist policy, like redlining, racially restrictive covenants, and subprime lending which led to the housing crisis. I feel like there’s a moral imperative to recognize that systemic racism prevented and blocked households of color from owning their own homes. As we explore initiatives to address this injustice, we need to ensure they’re actually restorative to affected communities.” On the topic of the HOA, Kimball appreciates the thought leadership work around overcoming barriers to ownership faced by lower income households and communities of color. “The HOA’s Guide to Non-Interest-Bearing Financing and the work around gauging the potential impact of standardized down payment assistance stand out for me,” she says. “This is concrete information aimed at industry practitioners and policymakers, designed to help them reduce the racial homeownership gap.”

Across the river in St Paul, Kayla Schuchman (above far right) serves as the City’s Housing Director. She too is a current Homeownership Center Board member. “My parents didn’t make a lot of money,” she says. “We lived in subsidized housing when I was growing up. This support facilitated stability, and the predictable affordability allowed them to achieve homeownership themselves when I was in high school. From my own perspective as a young teenager, moving out of renting and into homeownership was such a great milestone. It felt freeing, and made you proud. And we got to get a dog!” When Schuchman turned 24, she and her partner bought their own home.

Over the course of her career, Schuchman has also spent time working for the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, Minnesota Housing and CommonBond Communities. “Housing is at the intersection of so many things,” she says. “Educational disparities, the wealth gap, family stability, it’s all impacted by housing. Where you live and whether you rent or own plays a huge role in who you become and how you influence the next generation.” Schuchman says she appreciates the opportunity to now be a part of the type of work that helped her own family to thrive. “The housing policy space offers a great opportunity to make a positive and measurable impact on the world,” she says. “And by being actively involved with the HOA, my work benefits from the insights and activities of some of the most committed individuals in the industry.”

For information on how you can get involved in the Homeownership Opportunity Alliance’s work to close Minnesota’s racial homeownership gap, visit HOCMN.org/Homeownership-Opportunity-Alliance-Industry.