CEDAR CITY — CBC Mortgage Agency, a Cedar City-based nationally chartered housing finance agency, has named Tai Christensen as its diversity, equity and inclusion officer for 2021.
In her new role, Christensen will lead an effort to “promote a culture of inclusion for employees of all races, ethnicities, and gender identities,” according to a recent news release from the agency that is one of nine tribally-owned enterprises of the Cedar Band Corporation, which is wholly owned by the Cedar Band of Paiutes.
“We are very pleased that Tai will lead our DEI efforts,” CBC Mortgage Agency President Miki Adams was quoted as saying in the news release. “As our director of government affairs, Tai has been an outstanding advocate in supporting down payment assistance for a spectrum of borrowers, particularly minorities and those in underserved communities. We have no doubt that she will excel at helping CBCMA elevate its vision of inclusive excellence.”
Christensen began her real estate finance career more than 14 years ago as a mortgage processor, the release states. She joined CBC Mortgage Agency in 2018 and has served as its director of government affairs since 2019, a position she will maintain alongside her new role.
“I truly want to help our employees understand the value behind the diversity of our team,” Christensen said in the release. “By sharing our unique life journeys with each other, we’ll be able to create a more unified and harmonious work family. In addition, I want to help create an environment where educating our employees about diversity is celebrated.”
In a telephone interview with Cedar City News on Thursday, Christensen said she is looking forward to her new responsibilities.
Although Christensen said she has been doing much of her work online over the past year, she noted that prior to COVID-19 she traveled to Washington, D.C., frequently to meet with U.S. Congress members and their staff as part of her government affairs role.
“I also am in charge of the two initiatives that we have here at CDC Mortgage Agency, which focus on minority homeownership and increasing the minority homeownership rates in the country,” Christensen added, noting that the two programs are the Kani Urban Indian Housing Initiative, which takes its name from the Paiute word for “home,” and UHOUSI, a plan created to increase homeownership among African Americans, other minorities and millennials.
Christensen also talked about the newly passed $1.9 trillion federal coronavirus relief package, which President Joe Biden signed on Thursday.
“I have not read the final bill language, so I’m a little bit hesitant to comment, but I will say that as far as I know, the Native American funds that have been allocated for those resources, I feel like this is an amazing time for Natives to utilize the resources that they are about to be given and turn that into generational wealth, in whatever form that they can,” she said.
Christensen said she hopes the stimulus bill will help minorities get themselves out of “intergenerational poverty situations.”
“These are, you know, decades upon decades, family members upon family members, that just keep perpetuating these limited resources that we have, as far as being minorities,” she added. “We need to utilize everything that has been given to us now, whether it’s in the form of assets, whether it’s in the form of information, whether it’s in the form of grants, to better our situation. And homeownership, in my opinion, is the first step.”
Owning a home, Christensen said, is the way Americans most readily acquire wealth and assets.
“The average white American family has about $170,000 in net wealth and the average minority family has $17,000,” she said. “And the biggest discrepancy is homeownership.”
“So, I would advocate for everyone to utilize the funds that they’re getting … and turn that into something that can create money for you and your family and posterity down the line. And homeownership is the first step to doing that.”
Christensen, who lives in Eagle Mountain, has been a Utah resident for more than 20 years.
“I moved from New Jersey, to Utah to go to college and I’ve been here ever since,” she said.
Although she’s still conducting business and holding meetings virtually for the time being, Christensen said she is looking forward to visiting Cedar City in person in June, when the annual Paiute tribal powwow is scheduled.
“We’re really excited for that,” she said.
For more information about CBC Mortgage Agency and its downpayment assistance programs, visit the Chenoa Fund website.
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