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Report: People of Color Significantly Less Likely to Receive Home Loans in 61 U.S. Cities

Photo: AP (A dilapidated house in Philadelphia, the main case study in Reveal’s report on housing discrimination.)
Photo: AP (A dilapidated house in Philadelphia, the main case study in Reveal’s report on housing discrimination.)

On Thursday, Reveal News published a report independently verified by the Associated Press, which found that people of color, especially black and Latinx people, are often denied mortgage loans at far higher rates than their white counterparts.

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Reveal’s study, conducted over the course of a year, found trends of “modern-day redlining” in 61 cities throughout the country. According to Reveal’s analysis, black applicants were turned away at much higher rates than white applicants in 48 cities, Latinx applicants in 25, Asian applicants in nine, and Native American applicants in three. And all four of these groups were much more likely to be denied home loans than white people in Washington D.C..

This is happening 50 years after the Fair Housing Act was ratified, and the report hints that this gross imbalance will continue to expand, or at least fail to be corrected, under Donald Trump’s administration’s policies (no surprises there):

“[T]he Trump administration has gone the other way, weakening the standards banks must meet to pass a Community Reinvestment Act exam. During President Donald Trump’s first year in office, the Justice Department did not sue a single lender for racial discrimination.

The disproportionate denials and limited anti-discrimination enforcement help explain why the homeownership gap between whites and African Americans, which had been shrinking since the 1970s, has exploded since the housing bust. It is now wider than it was during the Jim Crow era.”

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Reveal’s method of analysis incorporated all publicly available records and controlled for nine economic and social factors, including the applicant’s income and the amount of the loan.

It’s extremely worth your while to read the full report.

contributing writer, nights

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DISCUSSION

As a realtor, this makes me INSANE. Why would banks not want to make more money from any customer they can find who is qualified? Were the subjects of the article sitting down face-to-face with people or were they emailing based on referrals from realtors, which happens a ton. Sometimes, mortgage people don’t even meet the clients in person until closing so I’m wondering how they would know to deny a person (like Rachelle Faroul in the article) based on their race.

I wonder if they’ve ever looked at national online lenders like Quicken Loans vs. if this is a local bank issue. I’d also be interested in seeing how Credit Unions do on this issue. But without access to the credit ratings they’re using, I doubt we’ll ever have a truly accurate study. Not that credit ratings are perfect (they’re really not) but it’s all we have to go on right now.