Our Path to Home Ownership Part 1

(I’m sitting on the floor in front of my Grandma)

Homeownership was not something my parents attained when I was growing up. Later they would purchase a home during my adult years.

My grandfather on my mother’s side immigrated from Barbados when he was 18. Stanley had an entrepreneur spirit and held down several jobs trying to make ends meet.

He worked the docks in NY City for his first jobs, then cab driver and chauffer. After a decade or so, Stanley rented space and opened a deli where he lived in a small room above it.

My grandparents on my paternal side were part of the black migration movement. Over 6 million blacks moved from the rural south to the northeast or Midwest. My grandparents left Live Oak, Florida, and moved to New York City to escape harsh racism and joblessness.

I remember visiting them in the 1960s when they lived in a crowded tenant building in Harlem.

One day, I had to use the bathroom and asked Grandma where the toilet was. She took my hand and led me out of the apartment.

We walked to the end of the long hallway. Grandma opened the door to a communal toilet shared with all the other tenants on that floor. At night we used a porcelain chamber pot (pisspot).

Back then it was almost impossible for blacks to get loans to buy homes. Redlining was a massive barrier to gaining wealth and upward mobility. Government policies refused to insure mortgages in or near Black communities.

FHA was funding builders who were mass-producing entire subdivisions for whites. The requirement was that builders could not sell homes to Blacks.

This is the backdrop to my journey to homeownership.

To be continued...

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