NEW YORK (WABC) -- In New Jersey, Black homeowners are about two times more likely than white homeowners to have their homes severely under-appraised and that might have a lot to do with who is appraising the house.
Donnell Williams, the president of the Black Real Estate Professionals Alliance, hopes to seal up cracks in that foundation by creating parity in an appraisal industry where nationally about 97% of its members are white.
"It's a crisis. We're having problems now with sending our kids to college because we don't have the equity," Williams said. He partnered with the appraisal institute and launched a new initiative to recruit and train "100 Black appraisers in 100 Days."
"A lot of people in my community across the country don't know or didn't know how to even become an appraiser. It's almost like a secret society," Williams said.
In the New York metropolitan area, white appraisers make up about 81% of the industry. That is compared to about 10% for African Americans, 6% for Hispanics and 2% for Asians.
With very little representation in the industry, Williams says it's hard to get apprenticeships which are often a requirement. His program uncovers scholarship opportunities for classes to become a licensed appraiser. Suzan Adedipe plans to submit her application this winter.
"It's fantastic. It opens up the door for everyone. Finding a mentor through this program takes the guesswork out of it," Adedipe said.
Federal and state legislation also aim to tackle biased appraisals including the NJ senate's proposed Fair Appraisals Act which would punish appraisers accused of discrimination.
"You thought redlining was over in the 70s and that it just doesn't happen anymore. That happens. It's happening right now," said Williams.
Williams plans to offer another class in February.
He is looking for more people to train these aspiring appraisers. If you'd like to become a partner, you can email the Black Real Estate Professionals Alliance at email@example.com.
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