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Black Real Estate Association aims to help Houstonians become homeowners

HOUSTON – It's the biggest investment most of us will make in our lifetime and this week across Houston thousands of families are being encouraged to become homeowners.

“Moving into this house has been truly a blessing,” said Donald Fortner.

Fortner and his family first came to Houston in 2005 after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans.  They spent the next year in temporary housing.

“We had some issues regarding the income that I was earning at the time," said Fortner.

Then he found a realtor who was able to work with their circumstances.  Donald's son, Collins Fortner, was about 8 years old at the time they found their current home.

“It was the last one we looked at. I remember I was going to get my own room so I was, like, 'Yeah we can get this one. This is the one we have to get,'” said Collins.

Marla Lewis was their realtor.

“The homeownership amongst blacks right now is 41 percent. That is the lowest since the Great Depression,” Lewis said. 

Now she is the chair of Realties Week, which is an effort to spread financial literacy and increase overall homeownership in the Houston area.  She argues owning a home is one of the best ways to build wealth within the black community.

"We want to make sure that those that are able to own a home and that have the will to own a home can do just that,” Lewis said. 

The Fortners have made many memories in their home.

“Had my graduation party here from high school. Actually, all of us had our graduation parties here. Thanksgivings, Christmases, got in trouble a couple of times here so you know that's something else,” Collins said.

“It's such a sense of pride and accomplishment and stability, especially when you have a large family like we have,” Fortner said.

If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about what it takes to be a homeowner then Operation Red Day is for you.

It takes place  this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church. It is free and open to the public though advanced registration is encouraged.

For more information, go to http://www.hbreahouston.org/event-2515426.