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Report: Mortgage Approval Still Based on Race

African-Americans and Hispanics received just 9 percent of the country's conventional loans last year. (V. Carter)
African-Americans and Hispanics received just 9 percent of the country's conventional loans last year. (V. Carter)
October 5, 2017

ANNAPOLIS – Achieving the American dream often comes down to access to capital, and a new report finds that racial disparities continue when it involves home loans.

The Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) analyzed 2016 mortgage lending data and found African-Americans and Hispanics received just 9 percent of the country's conventional loans last year, while their white counterparts were approved for 70 percent of the loans granted.

Nikitra Bailey, executive vice president for the Center for Responsible Lending, explains what an impact it has on people as they try to advance themselves economically.

"We know that many credit worthy borrowers are in the marketplace,” she states. “Many borrowers who have less than prime credit scores are still credit worthy and they perform well, particularly in a market where a lot of the bad practices have been addressed."

Consumers of color continue to depend on higher cost, government backed mortgages from the Veterans Administration and Federal Housing Authority.

The Equal Credit Opportunity Act and Fair Housing Act protect consumers against discrimination because of race, but the CRL and others argue that standards are so tight following the foreclosure crisis many creditworthy consumers are denied.

The Urban Institute estimates more than 5 million potential borrowers are being locked out because of an over correction after the foreclosure crisis.

On top of that, African-Americans are at the same level of home ownership rates as they were in 1968.

Bailey says the inability to purchase a home has far reaching impacts on people's lives.

"Home ownership is the cornerstone of how most American families have built their wealth over time,” she explains. “The home equity is used to finance a business, to help send a child to college or to help one land into a safe and comfortable retirement."

Bailey and other market analysts say the future of the housing market depends on including underserved borrowers, as existing homeowners need buyers when they want to sell.

Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies found nonwhites accounted for 60 percent of household growth between 1995 and 2015, and predicts that half of the millennial households by 2035 will be nonwhite.


Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD