HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – An analysis group with Today’s Homeowner found an increasingly large gap between the number of White and Black homeowners nationwide, and right here in the Rocket City.

The team analyzed over 10 years of homeownership data from the U.S. Census Bureau to find the gap in over 200 cities. 

Expert realtors say purchasing a home outweighs the benefits of renting, claiming homeownership can be a step toward building wealth and other benefits.

However, data journalist Shadi Bushra argues that Black house hunters face “a number of their own unique challenges” when purchasing a home.

Long-term factors like income, debt and credit history can play role in the ability of house hunters being able to purchase a home versus settling for renting.

Bushra explained how these challenges reflect in their research. Any percent over zero means there isn’t a gap while the higher the negative number, the larger the gap. 

Here are some of the key takeaways for Huntsville:

  • Huntsville currently has a -28.2% Black homeownership gap.
  • That’s -9.7% lower than in 2010 when it was -37.9%.
  • The Black homeownership rate in Huntsville is 42.2%, a 6.6% change from 2010. 

Bushra says homeownership is also a vital step in building generational wealth, an uphill battle most black families struggle to achieve.

“If your parents owned a home, you are far more likely to own a home,” said Bushra. “It’s a lack of intergenerational wealth, and unfortunately a lack of intergenerational knowledge transfer that’s happening in that situation. And so Black home buyers really are at a disadvantage in that situation.”

After the 1968 Fair Housing Act prohibited housing discrimination, black homeownership rates slowly began to rise.

The nationwide impact from the recession in 2008 caused some setbacks that, as Bushra stated, “can’t be underestimated” in narrowing the homeownership gap.

Theresa Leslie is the president of the Huntsville Association of Real Estate Brokers. She said Black house hunters still face disparate treatment.

“The sad piece is now you’re dealing with discriminatory lending. You finally get an approval, you go out and you look for a home, and then you have those who will not accept your pre-approval letter based on the home product that you were set up on. Those things need to come to a halt.”

Leslie noted that while the issues are being addressed, “stricter laws with penalties” are needed to help stop this. Thousands of young Black professionals have come to the greater Huntsville area for the booming job market.

However, the first step, Leslie told News 19, is to encourage those interested in buying a home to not be afraid.