Across the country, homeownership levels for Black Americans have dropped almost every year since 2004. That’s also true in parts of northwest Ohio, where approximately half of white residents own their homes in contrast to only one-third of Black residents.

“Breaking Barriers to Black Homeownership,” an initiative by Buckeye Ridge Habitat, aims squarely at battling generations of discriminatory housing practices and shrinking the ownership gap that still exists in many of our communities.

“The whole concept is looking at what we can do today to address the fact that these issues still exist,” said Lynn Zucker, executive director at Buckeye Ridge Habitat for Humanity. “It’s figuring out how we can help our Black friends and neighbors break those barriers and become homeowners. It’s recognizing the historical factors at play but also focusing on what we can do for the future.”

In some areas, this means performing direct outreach to Black residents such as holding lunchtime information sessions or homeownership orientation programs after church. In others, it’s hosting speaking events that educate people about historical divisions, promote the benefits of a more diverse community and propose plans for encouraging inclusiveness.

For AEP Ohio, the Breaking Barriers mission was a perfect match for its philanthropic efforts.

“Housing needs are a priority for our company’s charitable giving,” said John Recker, customer and external affairs manager for northwest Ohio. “In recent years, we have also been working in the communities we serve to support diversity programs that address discrimination. That is why ‘Breaking Barriers’ aligns perfectly with what we’re trying to do and continues our support of Habitat for Humanity organizations across Ohio.”

AEP Ohio’s $10,000 donation will go not only toward supporting homeownership awareness efforts, but also to providing help to existing homeowners who need critical home repairs. The donation specifically targets Wyandot and Hardin counties, which fall within AEP Ohio’s service territory inside the Buckeye Ridge region.

To learn more about the “Breaking Barriers to Black Homeownership” initiative within Buckeye Ridge Habitat for Humanity, visit

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