We can do better. We must do better.

In 2004, The Directors Council of Des Moines was formed. It is made up of independent Executive Directors dedicated to improving the conditions of the neighborhoods they serve. From this group, the One Economy report was developed to address the financial capacity and wealth divide between the Black community and the mainstream community.

One of the most troubling findings from the One Economy report is the Tale of Two cities section. Des Moines is the 11th best place to live in the United States, 2nd best city to find a job, #1 location for millennial homebuyers, and 5th best city for retirement. Sounds like a great place to live, right? Well, let me tell you how Black Polk County falls short. Des Moines is the 3rd worst city for African Americans, with a 14.8% unemployment rate for African Americans (worst rate in the U.S.), 1.4% of all home mortgages are made to African Americans, and only 10.8% of black households have retirement income. While these disparities are shocking, let’s take a closer look at the housing statistics. We are a housing agency after all.

According to the One Economy report, in 2010, African Americans in Polk County represented 11.2% of all renters while representing just 6% of the county’s total population. In that same year, African Americans represented only 2.6% of all homeowners in Polk County. In the fiscal year 2017-18, 76% of HOME, Inc.’s homeownership counseling clients were of minority households. In the homeownership program, 90% of our clients improved their financial health. Our program helps people of color improve their standard of living by decreasing debt, creating budgeting plans, and developing goals to one day become homeowners.  

Since 1987, HOME, Inc. has constructed 162 homes from the ground up. Of those homes, 65% were purchased by minority families. More specifically, 42% were sold to African Americans. We are proud of the work our organization is doing to help bridge the gap, but there is much more work that needs to be done. HOME, Inc. is eager to coordinate efforts with The Directors Council to build a stronger community with One Economy.

I will leave you with one final quote from the One Economy report: 

“Make our voices count. Do more than just collect our stories into a report. After all, these are our stories. These are our lives. They matter. And we expect real change to happen because we trusted you. Again, we trusted you to capture our lives in a report. Please don’t read it once and leave it on shelf. Do something with it so that we can together change the conditions of our lives.”

Read the full One Economy report here: https://www.tdcdsm.org/one-economy

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