Tuesday, June 23, 2015

ACLU Study: Great Recession Placed Black Homeowners At 'Severe' Economic Disadvantage

Posted By on Tue, Jun 23, 2015 at 12:00 PM

The recent collapse of the country's housing market placed black homeowners at a "severe" economic disadvantage, and furthered fueled the major racial wealth gap in the U.S., according to a study released today by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The study—ran for the ACLU by the Social Science Research Council—looked into data on black and white homeowners between 1999 and 2011, exploring the changes in wealth and home equity for such families over that period of time, and predicted how those changes might affect their children and grandchildren, an ACLU press release says.

"Not only were black homeowners devastated by the housing market collapse, they are now being left behind. It is very much a tale of two recoveries," says a statement by Rachel Goodman, staff attorney with the ACLU's Racial Justice Program.

Here are some of the key findings:
In the recovery, race matters. All households lost wealth at the height of the housing bust and recession, from 2007-2009. But, beginning in 2009, median white household wealth stopped falling as median black household wealth continued to drop. The typical black household lost an additional 13 percent of its wealth between 2009 and 2011.

Harms will compound and continue into the next generation. By 2031, a typical black household's wealth is forecast to be nearly 40 percent lower than it would have been without the Great Recession. As a result, the overall wealth disparity between white and black homeowners, which had been forecast to drop to 4.0 by 2031, will instead grow to 4.5.

Home equity disparities will continue for children and grandchildren. In the absence of the Great Recession, by 2050, the home equity disparity would have been nearly erased for the adult children and grandchildren of survey participants. Given the unequal impacts of the recession, however, white descendants are projected to have 1.6 times the home equity of black descendants.
What contributes to the growing differences are: black families had a larger portion of their wealth in home equity before the Great Recession, so the drop in housing prices hit them harder; They were also more likely to receive "predatory" loans than "creditworthy" white Americans, ACLU says.

"This study makes clear that the devastating impact of the financial crisis on black families' wealth will continue until policymakers address this pressing issue," Goodman says.

Here are some of the recommendations from the report, which you can read here.
Regulate Mortgage Servicing: Government enforcement agencies should focus special attention on identifying and stamping out racial disparities in servicing practices. Policy reforms aimed at strengthening regulators or addressing abuses in the mortgage servicing industry should be specially attuned to the civil rights consequences of unequal exclusion from housing opportunity.

Reform the Secondary Mortgage Market: Reforms should ensure that mortgage securitizers operate in a way that encourages inclusive lending and discourages discrimination by originators.

Open Access to Credit: Policymakers should carefully monitor current lending practices to ensure that low-income and minority communities are not being unfairly denied mortgages, and to clarify that recent legislation does not support racially disparate limitations on access to credit.

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