Last month, local Birmingham real estate broker Abra Barnes was honored with the Fair Housing Champion Award from the National Association of Realtors. This award recognizes realtors that go above and beyond to promote housing for all in underserved communities.
Barnes, president of local firm Barnes & Associates, is dedicated to empowering clients with the knowledge and skills they need to own a home and build generational wealth.
Abra Barnes’ mission
Barnes comes from a family of crusaders in civil rights and equality– something that continues to inspire her in her work. Her grandfather was a founder of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference Alabama Chapter. In a video highlighting the award, Barnes recalled her family experiencing targeted attacks since her grandfather was a vocal civil rights leader in the community.
Her father, Anthony Barnes, was the founder of Barnes & Associates, the largest black-owned brokerage in Alabama at the time. He was also the first African American to be appointed to the Alabama Real Estate Commission.
As a result of her experience, Abra Barnes became passionate about working in low-income areas in Birmingham. It became her goal to ensure home ownership for all and fight discrimination in her community.
Her work in the Birmingham community
When Barnes’ father died, she became the head broker and president at Barnes & Associates and decided to help the business expand its reach. In 2017, she opened Barnes School of Real Estate, an organization dedicated to educating the community about how to navigate the world of real estate and build generational wealth.
“My [grandfathers] gave me the strength and courage to fight for housing for all people. When someone obtains homeownership, they not only have quality housing but can [build] generational wealth.”Abra Barnes in a profile by the National Association of Realtors
They also offer a home ownership class that teaches financial literacy– teaching budgeting, credit and other things that low-income communities are not often educated about. Her involvement in empowering home owners led her to be appointed to the Housing Authority of the Birmingham District by Mayor Woodfin in 2021.
Barnes also became involved with Woodlawn United, an organization dedicated to the revitalization of her childhood neighborhood. Their vision is to transform the community with things like walkable streets, access to amenities, education and economic development.
A national honor
As one of the national recipients of the Fair Housing Champion Award, Barnes will be awarded $5,000 dedicated to a housing-related nonprofit organization of her choice.
“I want the world to know that things are looking good in Birmingham. I am just so thankful and grateful to the National Association of Realtors for thinking of little old Abra from Birmingham, Alabama. It tells me that my work is not in vain.”Abra Barnes in a video by the National Association of Realtors
To learn more about Abra Barnes and her mission toward housing for all, watch the NAR’s video here.