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Denver mortgage broker hopes new school will help close home ownership gap in minority communities

Keystone Mortgage Academy strives to bring more people of color into lending industry
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Posted at 10:47 AM, Sep 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-09-18 12:47:09-04

A new program in Denver will train 15 people to become mortgage brokers with a special focus.

Janine Kempfer, president of Prime Mortgage in Denver, founded the Keystone Mortgage Academy to bring more people of color into the mortgage lending industry and close the gap in minority home ownership. Communities of color have struggled to catch up because of historical discrimination in lending and practices like redlining, she said.

“If you go all the way back to 1968, when the Fair Housing Act was passed, it's still about a 30% gap,” Kempfer said.

Kempfer blames some of the gap on a lack of trust in lenders.

“A loan officer who is not aware of the history of discrimination and banking may not even have taken the time to learn about the programs that are designed to help these communities,” she said.

As a black female mortgage broker, Kempfer herself is a minority in the industry. That was a key factor that led her to create Keystone.

“How can I train (brokers) in the mortgage industry, so they can go back to their own communities with empathy, and understanding, and make a difference,” she said.

Kempfer worked with philanthropists to fund the pilot program, and Denver Public Schools provided classroom space inside George Washington High School. 15 students will undergo a rigorous three-month course at no cost.

“By producing highly trained mortgage professionals, we create a bridge to historically under-served communities, and that's how we're going to reduce the home-ownership gap,” Kempfer said.

Kempfer hopes to have another group of students after this pilot program and eventually create a nationwide program.

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