Local group aims to increase home ownership in underserved communities

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The dream of homeownership is slipping farther away from many families because of rising prices.

Realtist of Fresno County was formed back in 2019 to help under-served families navigate what can be a difficult process.

"Owning a home is an investment vehicle," says Lionel Apkovi. "It is your avenue to build generational wealth."

Virtual homebuying workshops through the FresnoCONNECT initiative, in partnership with the city of Fresno, drew 800 people last year, so more events are planned this year to help families qualify.

"The biggest obstacle is figuring out where to get the information, where to get the resources from and that is another reason why we established this organization," says Aisha Allen. "We wanted folks that look like us to be able to come to us to be able to get the information."

Allen and Lionel Apkovi head the local chapter of a national organization formed initially to increase the number of African-American homeowners. But they assist anyone who needs assistance.

"The term 'Realtist' was coined by the founder of the national organization back in 1947," Apkovi said.

Fresno Housing CEO Tyrone Williams will join an upcoming discussion to help people learn more about home-buying strategies and even grant money opportunities that could be available for some families.

"There are common challenges and those of us who are housing professionals are looking at how best we can minimize those barriers and remove those barriers as well," he said.

Allen says it's important for young people to learn how homeownership can help families build wealth.

"When they become ready, they know it's something they can do," Allen said. "It is completely attainable. They're not having any barriers preventing them from even thinking that."
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