By Melanie Robitaille, Sr. Staff Writer & Graphic Designer
“I have a dream,” Martin Luther King Jr. passionately exclaimed that fateful summer in Washington, D.C. in 1963. It would take another five years before the U.S. government would enact the Fair Housing Act to ensure equity for all those in search of homeownership, but unfortunately to this day the struggle is still very real for many cultural minorities and those in the LGBTQ+ community.
According to Financial Journalist, Farnoosh Torabi, in a video as part of her Closing the Gap column for NextAdvisor in partnership with TIME, “The homeownership gap between black and white Americans has only widened since the days when racial discrimination in housing was legal. The difference in ownership today stands at over 30% in the U.S.”
The LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance reports similar disturbing statistics on their website which states, “Although LGBTQ+ people are protected in some states and municipalities, federal fair housing laws do not include sexual orientation or gender identity as protected classes. This allows legal discrimination in 27 states which can cause barriers to homeownership, obtaining a loan, renting, and more.”
A self-confessed independent and passionate person, with dreams to lobby at the local or state political level one day, Sales Representative, Laurascott Barfield with EXIT Capstone Realty in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, grew up in a real estate family that taught her to be a forward thinker, when that wasn’t a popular concept. She has been involved with the LGBTQIA+ community for over 15 years, however after witnessing the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, she knew she wanted to do more.
“We’re all Americans who deserve to be a part of the ‘American Dream,’ and a big part of that dream is building generational wealth. The easiest way to do that is by owning real estate. REALTORS® are at the forefront of the fair housing issue and I don’t want anyone to feel overlooked,” she shared.
With a deep belief in dream equity for all, Laurascott set out to obtain her At Home with Diversity designation offered through The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), a one-day training course specializing in diversity sensitivity and applying it to fair housing laws in an individual’s real estate business.
“Get the certification. It’s about a six-hour class that can be taken online or in person. Diversity sensitivity training is helpful to raise awareness about individuals who are different than yourself,” she urged other agents. “Put yourself out there as someone who cares about everyone.”
It’s a truly EXIT way of thinking and no small wonder why she found her home within a brand where the culture is about putting people first and supporting creative solutions to help people afford homes. With U.S. housing prices rising exponentially faster than incomes, EXIT Realty is driving creative solutions at local, state, and even national levels to make housing affordable for all.
EXIT’s recently released whitepaper discusses the REALTOR’S® role in affordable housing.
Read more stories like this in the EXIT Achiever.