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Building Equity in Our Communities: Key Takeaways from Brenda Shockley and Jeff Hayward

In honor of Black History Month, Fannie Mae’s Employee Resource Group, the African Ancestry Business Leaders for Excellence (ABLE), hosted a conversation between Brenda Shockley, Deputy Mayor of Economic Opportunity and Chief Equity Officer for Mayor Eric Garcetti for the City of Los Angeles, and Fannie Mae Chief Administrative Officer, Jeff Hayward. In her role, Brenda Shockley oversees policy and programs related to racial equity, workforce development, and housing and community development.

Brenda and Jeff discussed Brenda’s professional journey battling income inequity through community revitalization, education, and equal employment opportunity. As we reflect on the importance of closing the wealth gap and fostering communities, three key insights came out of the conversation.

  1. The racial wealth gap is linked to homeownership
    Growing up in LA, Brenda’s family lived in low-income housing and experienced injustice and racism, which limited their ability to secure more stable housing. Her family situation wasn’t unique. Due to the legacy of redlining, people of color struggled to improve their housing situation and future for their families. Zoning laws and lack of affordable housing in areas of opportunity contributed to the racial wealth gap, which remains today.
  2. Opportunity leads to homeownership
    Programs focused on increasing job opportunities, providing financial literacy education, and reducing student loan debt are instrumental in helping create a path toward homeownership. These initiatives have been a core focus for Brenda’s efforts in LA, and she noted that earning a steady income, understanding the homebuying process, and limiting debt can help people of color save money and qualify for home loans.
  3. Affordable housing betters our communities
    Increasing the availability of affordable housing is important for bettering our communities. Brenda discussed the importance of changing how we define a home—moving from the idea of a traditional two-story home to considering options in manufactured housing or rental opportunities. In addition, Brenda and Jeff discussed how energy efficiency in housing can help reduce cost and increase affordable housing availability. Finding innovative solutions and driving cross-sector partnerships across the housing industry can help build the affordable homes needed to develop inclusive, sustainable communities.

Brenda and Jeff’s discussion left us with the optimism that building housing can help close the intergenerational racial wealth gap and lead to greater opportunity within the Black community. Learn more about Fannie Mae’s mission to continuously build a stronger, safer, more efficient housing finance system that creates housing opportunities for homebuyers and renters in the U.S.

Want to be a part of the commitment? Check out our open opportunities.

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