Report: 18 Percent Of Black Mortgage Applicants Denied A Loan In Mass.

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Real estate racism doesn't have to officially exist, like back in the bad old days of redlining, in order to still exist.

The latest annual report from the Massachusetts Community and Banking Council found that in 86 of the state's 351 cities and towns, not a single home loan was made to black or Latino buyers. In 2015, just 5 percent of white applicants were denied a home loan, compared with 18 percent of black mortgage applicants.

The council has done this study for 23 years and not much has changed.


Jim Campen, author of the MCBC report and professor emeritus at UMass Boston.

Linda Sprague Martinez, assistant professor at Boston University's School of Social Work.

Interview Highlights

On the disparities in the report

Jim Campen: "There's no question that there hasn't been real changes in these patterns. They're very persistent, in terms of whether you look to the small percentage of loans that go to black and Latino homebuyers, if you look at the denial rates they're much higher denial rates for black and Latino homebuyers, if you look at the share of FHA loans, which are more expensive compared to more conventional loans ... all these patterns haven't shown much change over the last 12 years ...

"In eight [Boston] neighborhoods, blacks didn't get loans and they didn't make any applications in any of those eight neighborhoods. Latinos didn't get loans in four neighborhoods and in one of them, Fenway, there were two applications."

On what's driving the disparities

Campen: "What's driving it is the huge inequalities in wealth and income among different racial groups in the city. To some extent it's being driven by who's shown properties where ...

"All the things that have resulted [from] 300 years of oppression and exploitation in this country, from institutionalized racism, means that blacks are less able to buy housing and less able to pay a mortgage loan. That's a fact and it's a very, very, deeply embedded fact. And on top of that is layered the existing continuing discrimination ...

"From maybe 2000 to 2006, subprime lending changed dramatically and the kinds of populations and neighborhoods that couldn't get loans were suddenly targeted for bad loans. And huge disproportionate lending to black and Latino families ... And so homeownership rates did rise for blacks and Latinos and foreclosures followed. And so instead of homeownership being a channel to develop wealth, it became a channel to lose wealth."

On what can be done

Linda Sprague Martinez: "I think there are a couple of different routes that we can take. First of all, increasing awareness, understanding, that FHA loans maybe aren't the top choice ...

"At the end of the day, I think we need to be thinking about more asset-based policies. How can we create and build assets in communities of color? Because the issues around homes is one thing, but until we have more assets in our communities -- whether it's starting savings programs for children young, thinking about ways to eliminate college debt or university debt, creating more access to higher education — those are some of the things we need to start thinking about for communities."

This article was originally published on May 01, 2017.

This segment aired on May 1, 2017.



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