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Allison Joyner

Atlanta REALTORS Association makes progress in promoting diversity and inclusion with partnerships with multicultural organizations

(l to r): Karen Hatcher, President of ARA, Bilal Shareff, President of Empire Board of Realists, Geilia Taylor, Director of Community Engagement and Diversity for ARA, Michael Fischer, President-Elect ARA (image provided by ARA).

These organizations will be allowed voting rights through their memorandum of understanding. 

By Allison Joyner

To encourage diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in real estate in metro Atlanta, the Atlanta REALTORS  Association (ARA) has authorized voting rights to local multicultural real estate associations and their active members.

The Empire Board of Realists, National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHRE), Asian American Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), Women’s Council of REALTORS, and the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance now have voting rights through ARA’s comprehensive and inclusive memorandum of understanding (MOU). 

Last year, the ARA published a letter to its members in the Atlanta Business Chronicle apologizing for the organization’s past actions and discriminatory practices that prevented Black realtors and clients from purchasing residential and commercial property. 

morningside home

A home in Morningside that’s for sale (Photo by Terry Kearns)

In the past, these organizations were invited to ARA’s board meetings but not allowed to vote on motions presented to the floor. 

“They didn’t have the opportunity and were blocked from leadership positions. When they were excluded, they didn’t feel welcomed,” said Karen Hatcher, president of ARA. 

As the largest real estate organization in Georgia, Hatcher feels like the organization should mirror the people who live in the metro area today. 

Hatcher, who is the first Black woman to lead ARA in its 112-year history, wanted to make DEI a key priority in her term. 

During her installation, Hatcher’s speech explained current diversity and inclusion efforts as “being invited to the party but not being asked to dance.” She felt that the lack of representation for these organizations was an example of this. 

Making sure that meaningful DEI efforts continue to be implemented after Hatcher’s term, she insisted on creating a Multicultural Organization MOU task force as one of her first orders of business. She is also utilizing ARA’s newly hired Community Engagement and Diversity Director, Geilia Taylor, to maintain the relationships of these organizations moving forward. Drafting the MOU with Taylor formally begins the process. 

With the housing market creating a major boom in the real estate industry, affordable housing remains to be an important issue to address. 

Hatcher mentioned the Aspire Collection in March as “embodying the sustainable definition of places where people want to live and work,” which will allow entrepreneurs to operate their businesses on the lower level and live on the two floors above. 

housing, townhome, highland, affordable

Townhome prices haven’t been made public on a proposed development on North Highland Avenue. Prices start at $850,000 for a new townhome of comparable size on nearby Ponce de Leon Avenue. Credit: Kelly Jordan

“The prices in Atlanta have gotten so high that it’s beyond color,” Hatcher said. “It’s coloring every race, every ethnicity, every culture, it’s coloring everything and everybody so affordable housing has now it’s not just a “Black thing” as it used to be.”

She hopes that these changes will increase membership engagement and opportunities for all of their members to have a voice, feel welcomed, respected, reflected and expected to be an active part of ARA.

“We want more people to become homeowners. Just because everybody may not look like them, they still have opportunities and people working to advance homeownership for all,” Hatcher said. 



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1 Comment

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