St.Louis native Brent Roam was working as a lawyer when he felt called to come back to his hometown and start a ministry near the neighborhood that his father was raised in. He’d heard about the white flight out of the city and into the suburbs that started in the 1960s after the Fair Housing Act was passed, but it seemed like something that happened years and years ago. Until one day when Brent was reading his housing covenants, and he realized that his home had been zoned a white-only home.
Located in University City near the historic Delmar Loop, Brent’s church has a compassion-based approach to the housing problems that have affected generations of African-American families in St. Louis. He sees the housing discrimination as part of what caused the chronic problems of poverty, gangs, and crime, but he also thinks the solution lies in making homeownership possible for hardworking African-American families.
From 1934-1962, 98% of all home loans in the U.S. were given to white families. This started a downward net wealth trend for Black families who were left out of homeownership for generations. Brent’s ministry, The Fam STL, provides housing solutions for people who are working, but who are still being shut out of homeownership. And because each family’s situation is unique, Brent’s ministry tailors their solutions to meet a family wherever they’re at and lift them up.
Brent calls his approach “Responsibility irrespective of culpability”, and he shares a beautiful Good Samaritan analogy that really underscores how he sees his work. There is no perfect solution to housing discrimination. If this conversation had you asking yourself, “What can I do to help?”, Brent offers some solutions for how real estate investors can be part of a positive change, either in St. Louis or in their own cities.
Watch and Learn:
Listen and learn:
- Brent Roam thought that discrimination was something that happened in the past until he read the housing covenants for his own home and realized they were white-only covenants until 1993.
- With an eye on building up his community, Brent’s ministry has taken on the historical problem of homeownership in the Black community.
- How real estate investors can help give back in a way that’s a hand-up and not a handout.
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