Data disputes color-blind housing claim
Owning a home has been the cornerstone of the American dream — but a dream rooted in a history of inequity.
The premise of a recent column by Trey Garrison (“Housing shouldn’t look at any color but the color of money,” August 29) claimed that “borrowers aren’t turned down because of the color of their skin”; but rather because of two objective measures: “money for down payment and credit scores.”
This claim is disingenuous and dangerously misleading.
The color of one’s skin has hindered many people of color from fair participation in homeownership. Historic, systematic, and persistent legacies of discrimination in the housing industry have been well-documented (and are still written about, as in the recently buzzed about Atlantic article by Ta-Nehisi Coates “The Case for Reparations”).
Consider for example the most recent Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data. In 2012, there were 1.3 million conventional mortgage loans made; of those, Latinos received only 69,217 loans, African-Americans received 29,405 loans, and Asian American Pacific Islanders received 2,697 loans. There were 4.9 million refinance loans made in 2012, of which Latinos received 76,038, African-Americans received 75,785, and Asian American Pacific Islanders received 10,611.
But if the numbers aren’t enough, the empirical evidence is also damning.
On Sept. 2, Eric T. Schneiderman, New York’s Attorney General, filed a lawsuit againstEvans Bank, N.A. and Evans Bancorp, Inc. for their failure to make mortgages available in Buffalo’s largely African-American East Side neighborhoods. Alleging that Evans automatically disqualified East Side residents – regardless of their creditworthiness – is just the latest legal challenge involving redlining – a practice of exclusion that stretches as far back as the beginning of the 20th century.