Show Your REALTOR® Pride on Your Ride While Supporting Homeownership
If you’d like to buy a Texas REALTORS® license plate, go to texasrealestate.com/plate. You can decide whether you’d like the “Working for You” license plate available only for REALTORS® or the “Texas is Home” license plate that anyone can purchase. The license plates cost $30 per year, and $22 of that fee goes to TARHOF. Personalized plates cost extra.
This foundation helps change lives, but many REALTORS® have never heard of the Texas REALTORS® Housing Opportunity Foundation, a nonprofit that works to promote affordable housing across Texas.
You’ve probably seen the “Texas REALTORS®—Working for You” and “Texas is Home” license plates—maybe you even have one on your vehicle—but did you know the proceeds from those plates fund the Texas REALTORS® Housing Opportunity Foundation (TARHOF)?
What is TARHOF?
This foundation began in 2003 and is a true 501c(3) nonprofit, separate from the association. TARHOF promotes workforce housing and homeownership opportunities. The organization has its own board of directors, chosen by Texas REALTORS® leadership. The TARHOF directors review applications and award grants to organizations in Texas they believe are making effective efforts to help people own safe, affordable homes.
“The board members are the fiduciaries of the funds, so they have a responsibility to be the stewards of this money and to act in good faith when they’re granting awards and having discussions,” says Robin Harris, TARHOF’s legal advisor and associate counsel for Texas REALTORS®.
Where to Apply for a Grant
You can find the TARHOF grant application at texasrealestate.com/housingopportunity. You can direct people there for information and a link to apply for a grant. The application requires details about the organization seeking funds as well as a description of how the funds will be used.
What Does the Foundation Do?
The foundation helps organizations that work to build or find housing for low-income Texans and those who’ve been historically marginalized when it comes to homeownership. TARHOF grants also can pay for educational seminars, classes, and fairs on the basics of owning a home.
For example, the foundation has given grants of about $5,000 on average to multiple Habitat for Humanity branches; a Houston-based organization that educates renters on homeownership and helps them purchase their existing rental home; and the Hispanic Real Estate Brokers Association, which participated in a donation match to fund financial literacy workshops for low-income individuals seeking homeownership.
Ruben Peña, the current president of TARHOF, says aspiring homeowners need help with crucial homebuying topics, like how to get a loan. Even information about the smallest things that some may take for granted, like cutting the grass or how to work a central air conditioning unit, can benefit aspiring homeowners.
What is TARHOF’s Impact?
Harris says seeing the life-changing impact of homeownership is incredibly rewarding. “What TARHOF can do, through applicant organizations, is give people a place to call their own and build personal or family wealth,” he says. “The property will hopefully appreciate over time, and then you have something you can either sell or pass on to children or others.”
For Peña, TARHOF’s efforts to help people have a home are close to his heart and an integral part of why he’s in the real estate industry. Peña’s mother always told him, “Whatever you do, help the people,” and that’s what he’s been able to do through TARHOF and his 44 years as an agent. Peña knows firsthand how crucial it is to have a place to live and to be able to call it your own. Growing up in a family of 12, his family had trouble finding someone who would rent a home to them. After his own experience, Peña is grateful to be able to help those in similar situations achieve homeownership through TARHOF. “My ability to help people is why I do what I do,” he says.
How Can I Help?
“Texas REALTORS® is a great organization for members, but there are so many things our members don’t know to get involved in,” says Peña. “One way to support TARHOF is to purchase one of the Texas REALTORS® license plates. Another is to get the word out about the amazing opportunity the nonprofit provides. If you know of an organization working on an affordable housing effort, tell them about TARHOF and convince them to apply for a grant. While an award is not promised, the potential for changing lives through homeownership is worth the application.”