Ronnie DeVoe Is Leading More People of Color to the Path of Homeownership Through ‘Keys Unlock Dreams Initiative’

Ronnie DeVoe Is Leading More People of Color to the Path of Homeownership Through ‘Keys Unlock Dreams Initiative’

Ronnie DeVoe, the CEO of DeVoe Real Estate, and a member of the legendary groups BBD and New Edition, announced on Thursday that he is set to lead legions of Black Americans on the path to homeownership through a new partnership with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA).

DeVoe made the announcement during an exclusive gathering at the Glenn Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, on Thursday night. DeVoe Real Estate will join NFHA on a nationwide tour to promote the “Keys Unlock Dreams Initiative” (KUDI).

Joining DeVoe were real estate industry leaders, including  Marvetta Bozeman, Broker and director of operations of DeVoe Real Estate, Felicia Gentry, an eXp Realty agent in Texas, and Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance, among a host of real estate agents and other guests.

Ronnie DeVoe (Photo BE)
Ronnie DeVoe (Photo: BE)

DeVoe Real Estate not only committed to join the National Fair Housing Alliance on this ambitious program but DeVoe is also aligning his firm with eXp, one of the world’s fastest-growing real estate global brokerage firms.

“By doing this, DeVoe Real Estate will be able to recruit like-minded agents from around the nation who are also committed to this movement,” said Bozeman.

The crux of the partnership is to advance workable solutions to eliminate the racial, wealth and homeownership gaps. Although DeVoe experienced much financial success as part of the iconic musical groups Bell, Biv, DeVoe and New Edition, he also said he’s experienced financial challenges and struggles of losing two homes.

“I had to drive my U-haul from California to Atlanta,” because of financial woes he said on Thursday.

He says in 2002, “there was a lull in New Edition’s career.” With money scarce, he admits that he had to also file bankruptcy. “They didn’t have that in the New Edition story,” he joked.

“That’s another layer right there. I had it all but I was humbled to lose it all, including the second home I purchased.”

He said he moved to Atlanta with hopes that the “Black mecca” would be the promised land for Black people.

DeVoe said he got into real estate and “it changed my life.” Including a chance meeting with Bozeman that has ultimately turned into a fast friendship that has helped drive the success of his business, he said.

Aligning Interests

Through this movement, the agents that DeVoe Real Estate recruits will have to align with the agency and “must share the same passion that we do on helping to spread the word of FAIR and EQUAL housing,” Bozeman added.

“We desire agents who care just as much about educating potential clients as they do their commission,” she said.

Felicia Gentry
Felicia Gentry, eXp, speaking about the goals of the organization. (Photo: BE)

The Keys Unlock Dreams Initiative (KUDI) is a nationwide effort led by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) designed to achieve five major goals:

  • Remove structural barriers that perpetuate racial inequality
  • Expand affordable and fair housing options
  • Prevent an unbalanced recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Empower consumers and stakeholders with critical information and resources
  • Help close the racial wealth and homeownership gaps.

As it stands, there are stark disparities in homeownership rates—73.4 percent for Whites compared to 47.8 percent for Latinos and 42.7 percent for Blacks, according to KUDI. Those figures contribute to the
growing racial wealth gap and the trend of rising economic inequality. The Black-White homeownership gap is growing. It is larger—30.1 percentage points—than when redlining was legal. In fact, the Black-White homeownership gap is back to where it was in 1890, according to KUDI stats.

“Education is key to becoming a homeowner. Many people in the Black community don’t know where to start or they simply don’t believe homeownership is for them. We are using our personal connections, banking partnerships, and educational resources to provide the community with the tools they need to make their dreams of homeownership a reality,” Bozeman explained.

The partnership with NFHA will foster the goals set by DeVoe Real Estate. And because of its extensive reach with policy leaders, financial institutions, and the overwhelming amount of research it has on the housing crisis in the Black community, DeVoe Real Estate is positioned to hit the ground running with the KUDI initiative.

“One of the challenges that we face, we all know that we’re in a midst of a health pandemic, the COVID crisis and we see everyday in the news how this pandemic, this coronavirus, is disproportionately impacting African American, Latinos, Native Americans and other people of color,” said Rice, president and CEO of NFHA, at the gathering on Thursday. “Not just in terms of health but in terms of housing stability as well.”

Widening the net through DeVoe Real Estate’s expansion with eXp

As part of that initiative, Bozeman announced that the DeVoe Real Estate will now be known as DeVoe Real Estate Brokered by eXp.

“We have the largest numbers of Black real estate agents under one brokerage in the United States,” said Gentry, an eXp Realty agent in Texas, and co-chair and one of the original founders of ONE eXp, eXp Realty’s initiative for diversity and inclusion.

eXp is one of the world’s fastest-growing real estate brokerages. Founded in 2009, it now has offices in 14 countries around the world with a community of over 60,000 real estate professionals, all connected through the unique cloud-based platform, eXp World.

Gentry continued, “And the vision that was given to me is that we are here to educate, provide awareness, training. My job and my commission is to get real estate agents educated and trained to be prepared to go out into the streets to help our community. A lot of times we’re underprepared,” she admitted. “A lot of times we’re playing chess and checkers and our counterparts are doing Xbox.”

Gentry who spoke at DeVoe’s exclusive event, set forth an ambitious mission for Black agents.

“Our mission is to have 100,000 agents, $1 billion in earning commission and revenues for the company, for ourselves in 10 years. That is the vision of Black agents and allies so we can serve people not only in the United States, but around the world.”

For more information about DeVoe Real Estate click here.

For the Keys Unlock Dreams and the National Fair Housing Alliance click here.