The Tulsa Real Estate Fund (TREF), a first of African-American-owned real estate crowdfunding platform, co-founded by Ernestine Johnson, along with Johnetta G. Paye, Esq., helps individuals in low-income neighborhoods resist neighborhood gentrification through making low-payment real estate investments.
“ The goal of the Tulsa Real Estate Fund, which I co-founded with my husband, is to spread a message of financial empowerment and financial literacy in underserved and working-class communities,” says Johnson. In addition to working for TREF, she has been an actress since she was 10 years old and recently starred in 24 Legacy on FOX.
She initially became interested in real estate, Johnson explains, when she was studying for an audition one day and read that the median net worth for black women in her age range was $500. “This did not sit right with me. I was standing on $1000 shoes. I said to myself, ‘I have to use my art and my voice to financially empower low income, underserved, and urban communities.’”
And so, Johnson decided to learn about real estate. She realized that through gentrification, low-income families frequently are pushed out of their neighborhoods. Often, they are not equipped with the proper resources or education to buy properties in their communities. “Knowing this birthed an even deeper passion to help people buy real estate,” Johnson says.
To get her start in real estate, Johnson began by investing in dilapidated homes in Atlanta. One of the greatest challenges she faced early on was people telling her that she couldn’t do what she wanted to. However, she says, “I have learned to create my own doors and create doors for others. I find the gaps and find ways to fill them.”
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