Making the American Dream happen: It’s Who We Are

by Jeff Baker

REALTORS® sell the value of homeownership, property ownership and business ownership every day, and that makes us unique. There are not many other industries or callings in America where one can say “I am” responsible for making the American dream happen.

And while we are assertively saying it in 2022, this is not a new idea or something that is for this year only. This is who we are — this is who we were last year and who we will be in the years ahead. So now it is time to show even more the impact REALTORS® have on our communities, the state’s economy and the nation’s well-being.

We will do so through our ongoing American Dream of Homeownership campaign, emphasizing that REALTORS® hold the key to property ownership. It is an extension of the National Association of REALTORS®’ “That’s Who We Are” campaign.

We kicked off the American Dream of Homeownership campaign earlier this year by informing members at our events, sharing key research with the media, addressing discriminatory appraisals and restrictive covenants, and collecting client stories to share across all of our communications channels.

But more work remains to be done.

Not only do vestiges of discrimination still exist, but there are emerging obstacles making homeownership even more elusive for all Illinoisans. In fact, in the last few years we have had to defend homeowners against an increasing number of policy proposals at the state and local level that would have effectively canceled the American Dream of homeownership for any who have not already achieved it. There has also been legislation proposed in the Illinois General Assembly that could have had unintended consequences that would impact all homeowners — whether you live in a small town, large city or new subdivision.

Illinois needs more housing that is affordable throughout the state, plain and simple.

Our advocating for the preservation and construction of new housing is integral to our American Dream campaign. As are the strides we are making to diversify our industry by increasing the number of minority college scholarships and providing grants for customized training for brokers.

We are working right now to find those objective, nonpartisan influencers who can help us poll Illinoisans to find out if the American Dream of homeownership is still within reach — and if not, what can be done to help them achieve it. We hope to find those influencers willing to speak in a documentary about the legacy of housing discrimination and what can be done to remove some of the remaining forms of discrimination, such as restrictive covenants and discriminatory appraisals.

The American Dream campaign is about awareness, understanding, education and action. So when you ask why we are leveraging this campaign to better serve our clients, improve our communities and help make Illinois more attractive and affordable, we respond: That’s Who We Are!

Jeff Baker is the CEO of Illinois REALTORS®.

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