Hispanic homeownership in Minnesota is increasing, but COVID-related delinquencies threaten to derail progress.

The National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP) is the largest minority professional association in the country, comprising more than 40,000 members across 100 local chapters. NAHREP’s Twin Cities chapter was launched in 2019 by founding president Guille Garza, and today membership is approaching 100 real estate professionals from across the region. Last month, NAHREP released its annual State of Hispanic Wealth Report. We sat down with Garza to learn more about NAHREP Twin Cities, and discuss the report’s findings on homeownership and how they compare to the statistics here in Minnesota.

“NAHREP Twin Cities exists to educate and empower the real estate professionals who serve Hispanic buyers and sellers,” says Garza. “We need to be informed as we go about our work, and networking with each other and sharing information around the programs and initiatives happening all around us are among the best ways to stay up to date and do our best to help those we work with to achieve their dreams.”

Garza says the annual State of Hispanic Wealth Report is just one NAHREP initiative directed from the national level with local implications. Part of the organization’s Hispanic Wealth Project, the report tracks three component goals: Homeownership; Entrepreneurship; and Savings and Investment. “The Wealth project was born out of the wake of the Great Recession, when Hispanics lost up to two thirds of their median household wealth,” Garza says. Established in 2014, the Project aims to triple Hispanic household wealth by 2024. “We are working to help the Hispanic population to be economically successful in the United States,” Garza says. “That’s one of the things that’s special about NAHREP. We’re promoting more than just homeownership.” While this article will keep its focus on homeownership for the sake of space, the full report can be downloaded here.

In 2013, the national Hispanic homeownership rate was 46.1 percent. Last year, this national figure had risen to 47.5 percent. The Hispanic Wealth Project’s homeownership goal is to see this figure reach 50 percent nationally by 2024. Here in Minnesota, the Hispanic homeownership rate was above this goal in 2008, standing at 51.2 percent. But by 2011, in the wake of the Great Recession, this figure had fallen to 39.2 percent. Then, in another turnaround, it had risen back up to 49.5 percent by the end of last year. “The Hispanic community is truly resilient,” says Garza. “But we need to be politically savvy, and we need to understand what is happening and how to navigate changing financial landscapes in order to preserve our progress.”

Maintaining hard-earned progress is on the minds of NAHREP members as the COVID situation continues to disrupt our economy, with the Hispanic population disproportionately impacted. The Wealth Report found that Hispanic households were twice as likely as non-Hispanic White households to report having at least one family member laid off as a result of the pandemic. In fact, Hispanic unemployment nationwide reached 18.9 percent in April, the highest for this group since the Great Depression. “This is one of the reasons why we appreciate so much the services of the Minnesota Homeownership Center,” Garza says. “The COVID Housing Assistance Program, your foreclosure prevention advisory services, the fact that you’re running ads aimed at struggling homeowners in Spanish, our community is going to need help. And we’re so thankful that help is available.” Even in this difficult environment, the Hispanic community at large remains positive regarding homeownership. The Wealth Report found that 40 percent of Hispanics that do not currently own a home plan to buy within the next five years. The Homeownership Center and its network of community partners stands ready to assist them here in Minnesota when they’re ready.