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Crucial Conversations: Macon native works to close housing gap in minority communities

Cortney Newmans learned the trade. Now, he's returning to his hometown to help provide affordable housing options and educate minorities on home ownership.

MACON, Ga. — Cortney Newmans is a Macon native and real estate investor. He started his own company called Sherry Ann Homes

Eryn Rogers spoke to him about the challenges minority communities face in the housing market.

Eryn Rogers: What made you want to move into the Macon Market?

Cortney Newmans: Being born and raised in Macon, I think it was an opportunity to learn the business outside of Macon, get the education and background to be able to come back to Macon to put the dollars to use in the community. It's something I've always wanted to do.

Eryn Rogers: What do you think are some of the challenges black and brown people face in this community when trying to get a home?

Cortney Newmans:  The inequality to be able to afford houses in Macon just wasn't there, and it's still not there, and it's really something that needs to be taken to the forefront and made a priority to provide affordable and workforce housing for the minorities in the area to be able to have home ownership. I think it's just that affordability, and maybe there's not that much inventory there from them to choose. When I was looking at data in Macon, around 16% of the houses are vacant.

Eryn Rogers: What will it take to give black and brown communities in Macon the opportunity to have home ownership?

Cortney Newmans:  It's not going to happen overnight. It's going to take a 10, 15, 20 year initiative because we really have to drive the income to be able to have home ownership. 

In Georgia, the median household income is around $56,000, but Macon sits well below that at around $42,000. Newmans says projects and initiatives in the Beall's Hill and Pleasant Hill neighborhoods are good. 

Cortney Newmans: If you have more of those down payment assistance programs going on to allow more minority and our community to be able to get home ownership, then I think that will definitely play a factor to help the levels grow. But also we have to have education because as a black community, we always have been on the trailing initiative behind our counterparts of knowing our access to money, what it takes to get money, and how to qualify for a mortgage. So, I think you still have to have those initiatives to educate, so they know what factors does it take for me to be able to go to a bank or mortgage company to be able to get pre-approved or qualify for the housing process. 

You should definitely want to have home ownership. I think a lot of people want to get in the rental market and get comfortable. They say, I have rent here, it's good, but you're not building your wealth. 

Eryn Rogers: Are you hopeful the Macon market will flip?

Cortney Newmans:  I'm going to do my part, and I'm hoping that will attract other people like me, who grew up there, left, but now you need to come back and do your part in the community. I don't have all the answers yet, but I'm definitely going to try to do my part. I am hopeful for people to be able to come back and put outside dollars into the community because we can't just say, Macon you do it all. 

Newmans is currently renovating a 36 mutli-family rental unit in the Vineville neighborhood. He wants to expand into rehabbing single family homes in Macon next with a focus on home ownership. 

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