“We have launched an aggressive effort across this country with all 84 of our local boards to move (up) the home- ownership levels for Black people in America, and New York City will be the model for this effort,” said Clifford H. Turner, President of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, in an interview with Our Time Press, October 26, during the Bedford Stuyvesant Real Estate Board’s 69th Anniversary Banquet at Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn.
“Homeownership amongst African-Americans across the country is at 44.7% of the total Black population. Within the Hispanic community, 55% are home owners and whites are at 77.3%,” said Turner. “NAREB has an aggressive agenda to move African-American home ownership to above the 50% level.”
BSREB to Effect Model
“And the Bedford-Stuyvesant Real Estate Board, along with the Greater Harlem Real Estate Board, is committed to this agenda to help Black New Yorkers own where they live,” said Joyce Turner, BSREB president. “We are working on a blueprint for change to rebuild New York, following the guideline set 69 years ago by BSREB founder Jesse L. Vann, who was committed to securing equal opportunity in housing for all. It is not by happenstance that our anniversary motto this year is ‘Remembering the Past, Creating for the Future.’
Mr. Turner said, “We are going to effect the model that will make a difference in this city and will be replicated all over the nation. Our goal is to close 100,000-plus homes (for Black home-seekers) in New York (within the year).”
Turner’s activist positioning comes at a time when African-American homeowners in Brooklyn and beyond are struggling to hold on to what they have, and home-seekers are stressed with concerns of being priced out of the very neighborhoods in which they were born and raised.
According to William C. Collins, NAREB’s New York/New Jersey Regional Vice President, “BSREB is uniquely poised to contribute to the national goal, having had a longstanding commitment to the community. As the board helps more African-Americans realize their dreams of homeownership, neighborhoods will become more stable and the wealth will be shared.”
In response to Our Times’ question regarding the preponderance of African-American and Hispanic homeowners overwhelmed by the brutal tactics of predators, Turner made it very clear that NAREB is “challenging the whole real estate industry to come together in New York to unveil (and dismantle) all the (unfair) practices – whether predatory lending or other predatory practices. We want to uncover the myths. We want to challenge these industry leaders as we work together on these goals.
“In light of recent devastation that our communities have suffered,” noted Turner in the event journal, “Realtists are stepping forward, showing the way to create opportunities for those who have been uprooted and displaced. We must continue to develop what we have, access what we don’t and educate ourselves to manage what has been given.
“Serving the unserved is not a stranger to me, personally,” said Mr. Turner. “My roots and foundation have been through the NAACP. And over the years, I’ve seen the most aggressive way to get wealth is through homeownership.
Starting Off: 10 Years Behind
“The average age of a white person buying a first home is 26 years old,” he said. “The average age for a Black person is 36 years old. We’re starting off ten years behind. That’s why the Black realtors are getting in the schools to start our youth early. Our realtists must be realists; every local real estate board should have a real estate project for youth as part of our rebuilding efforts in the community.”
“Together, we must take back our families, our homes and our communities holistically through education, motivation and participation, and be motivated by those who paved the way before us and step out on faith for the greater good. We can do this!!”
Building on Past …..
In separate interviews, distinguished real estate giants Robert G. Buckner and William Turner, event honorees for lifetime achievement and both past presidents of BSREB, shared thoughts on the shifting market in Bedford Stuyvesant. William Turner (no relation to Clifford) is one of Brooklyn’s most powerful and successful real estate entrepreneurs (his Crossboro Realty Co. at 1514 Fulton St. in Brooklyn was responsible for the selling of 574 cooperative units for the Willoughby Walk Cooperative Apartments). He is a past president of the very active Fulton-Nostrand Merchants Association.
Buckner, according to Joyce Turner, was “a leader in the fight for fair and equal housing opportunities for minority home buyers and also instrumental in advancing opportunities for minority real estate professionals.”
“Houses selling for $20,000 in the 60’s are now $600,000,” said Buckner. “The shifting market in our community (reflects) a trend all around the country. Unfortunately, our children have left, and we’re losing a lot of our young people.”
William Turner recalled purchasing a house 40 years ago for $50 from HUD. “You can’t do that now,” he said, noting that one way to sustain a Black presence in the community is “for those who can afford the real estate . more lawyers, doctors, teachers, writers, entertainers — to move back into the neighborhoods” they left behind.
…Creating for Future
In addition to Lifetime Achievement Awardees William Turner and Robert Buckner, event Mistress of Ceremonies Jac’Qui C. Weekes, recipient of the President’s Appreciation Award, and Joyce P. Turner, acknowledged realtor Barbara J. Haynes, the journal chair, and honorees: Rudy Bryant, Associate Director of the Pratt Center for Community Development and Director of Training, recipient of the Jesse L. Vann Community Service Award; realtor Emerson Atkins, Banquet Chair (Service Award); Michael C. Forth, Esq. (Broker of the Year Award) and realtor Nelva Ortega (Salesperson of the Year Award).
Rev. Evelyn Hawkins delivered the invocation and benediction; Atkins offered welcome remarks; Hon. Randolph Jackson, Justice of the NYS Supreme Court-Kings County, installed the new officers (see photo on this page); and Collins presented a moving message on the realtors’ legacy. Highlights included Ms. Weekes’ poignant video salute to Mr. William Turner and Mr. Buckner and the brief but focused remarks of Bed-Stuy Restoration Corp. CEO Colvin W. Grannum, event keynoter, who was introduced by realtor Richard Flateau.
Grannum: Battle in Millennium
is for Our Neighborhoods
Echoing the comments of Mr. Clifford Turner and others at the warm event, Mr. Grannum said, “The battle of the 21st century is the battle for our neighborhoods. Together, we can preserve Bedford-Stuyvesant by establishing cooperative partnerships and building on the outstanding legacy of Mr. William Turner and Mr. Robert Buckner, and Jesse L. Vann, the late founder and 1st president of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Real Estate Board.”
In its remembrance of the past, the BSREB recalled in a moment of silence the rich life and real estate work of the recently departed pioneer Pinkey O. Harris.
Brick by Brick
Moving forward, Ms. Turner noted: “This year, the BSREB has increased its membership and expanded our outreach efforts directly into the community in conjunction with its mission to promote ‘Democracy in Housing’. But we have a lot of work left to do . and I know we can do it by working together, creating a better future for everyone, brick by brick.”
It also was announced at the event that in the summer of 2007, New York City will be the site of the Annual Convention of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers – with Black real estate professionals gathering in the Big Apple from around the nation. For more information on sponsorship opportunities for next year’s annual conference and NAREB’s vision of an expansive homeownership (“Realtists Building America”) project, contact: The Bedford- Stuyv