Banking officials, community groups home ownership disparity

(The Center Square) – Community groups and banking officials are working together to address the disparity of home ownership between white, Black and Latino communities.

A report from the real estate brokerage firm Redfin showed 44 percent of Black families owned their homes compared with 73 percent of white households.

Some who testified at a recent Senate hearing blamed the process of using credit scores to determine if money should be lent to Blacks and Latinos, and suggested that down payment assistance and changes in the home appraisal process could clear obstacles for the Black community.

Ben Jackson, executive vice president of the Illinois Bankers Association, said a shortage of appraisers could be a reason why evaluations are done without the person having first-hand knowledge about a specific neighborhood. He also said race is not an obstacle when buying a home.

“Illinois’ banks are committed to ensuring equitable access to credit, and we believe that race, ethnicity, national origin and gender should never be a barrier to home ownership,” Jackson said.

The decline in Black home ownership since 2012 may be a reflection of the impact of the Great Recession. During the housing crisis, Black households faced foreclosure at twice the rate of their white neighbors, largely because many Black homeowners were involved with subprime loans.

Illinois State Senator Mattie Hunter had strong words for the bankers who denied credit to Black borrowers and the banking industry in general.

“This is a criminal situation here as far as I am concerned, because you all have withheld billions and billions and billions of dollars from my community, from our community, and many of you all need to lose your license,” Hunter said.

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