Experts warn that Black homeownership is endangered as primary wealth building tool

"Institutional denial of access to mortgage credit is the single-most detrimental factor obstructing wealth building among Black Americans," says Ron Cooper, president of NAREB, the nation's real estate trade group dedicated to increasing home ownership for Black Americans and ensuring they receive fair and equal treatment throughout the home buying process.

WASHINGTON–Annual Legislative Conference cautioned that mortgage lending disparities coupled with public policies and inactions by governmental institutions conspire to impede the growth of Black homeownership.  the State

Ron Cooper, President National Association of Real Estate Broker
Ron Cooper, President National Association of Real Estate Broker

of Housing in Black America (SHIBA), the 2016 homeownership rate for Blacks was 41.7%, lower than the national homeownership rate during the Great Depression years of the 1930s. By contrast, the 2016 homeownership rate for non-Hispanic Whites was 71.5 percent.Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) both remarked that the targeting of minority communities, loss of equity, loss of the pathway to wealth accumulation in the Black community is why homeownership needs to increase.

“The continued institutional denial of equal access to mortgage credit is the single-most detrimental factor obstructing wealth building among Black Americans. NAREB is issuing a clarion call to lawmakers, regulators, government agencies, and lenders that a change must and will come. No longer will Black Americans be locked out,” said Ron Cooper, President of NAREB formed in 1947 to ensure equal and fair access by Blacks to own homes and opportunity for Black real estate professionals.

Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-NY), in his Issues Forum remarks, he  said that homeownership is the most important investment in the Black community and further stated that the data contained in NAREB’s report revealed that mortgage originations among Black borrowers continue to decline well after the financial crisis.  He added, “While I agree that we do not want to return to the excesses and abuses of the past, we must still find a way toward responsible lending for creditworthy borrowers, including those borrowers of modest means. Policies must be set in place to ensure affordability and increase access to mortgage credit, and there’s an essential role the government must and should play in that process.”

NAREB’s CBCF Issues Forum panelists echoed the mantra that Blacks are victims of a separate and unequal financial system that does not adequately evaluate or reflect a borrower’s real ability to pay. Current credit models are outdated and do not look discrimination in the face.  Expert panelists included: James H. Carr, co-author of the SHIBA Report, Professor of Urban Affairs, Wayne State University and Coleman A. Young Endowed Chair; Nikitra Bailey, Executive Vice President, External Affairs, Center for Responsible Lending; Larry Parks, Senior Vice President, External and Legislative Affairs, Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; Maurice Jourdain-Earl, Managing Director, ComplianceTech; Lisa Rice, Vice President, National Fair Housing Alliance, and Mark Alston, Chair of NAREB’s Public Affairs Committee. Panelists universally agreed that lenders continue to use these instruments that work to deny Black borrowers a mortgage loan when other credible models exist, but are not widely used by lending institutions.

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