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Homeowners in Redlined Neighborhoods Have Declining Home Equity

Analysis by Redfin said redlining says homeowners in a neighborhood with government redlining has gained 52% less value—$212,023 less—in personal wealth when compared to greenlined neighborhoods over the last 40 years. 

African-American homeowners are nearly five times more likely to own a home in formerly redlined areas than in a greenlined neighborhood. This could result in declining home equity and overall economic inequality for African-American families. 

“It’s a tale of two cities in Chicago. It goes back to redlining, when [African-American] residents lived in certain neighborhoods and white people lived in others, and the difference in home value and segregation between those places have been exacerbated by policy, education, wage inequality and so many other issues,” said Chicago Redfin agent Brittani Walker. “I hear the systemic problems every day when I talk to clients. Homebuyers have boundaries they’ve set for themselves, or a friend of a friend has set for them. 

“They don’t want to buy in certain neighborhoods, especially on the South Side in formerly redlined areas, because those places don’t get the culture, the restaurants, the fun events, they don’t even get healthy food at grocery stores. And that contributes to why home prices don’t go up in those neighborhoods.” 

Redlining refers to the 1930s-era practice where the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation assigned grades and colored coded residential neighborhoods to indicate their “mortgage security.” 

Neighborhoods that received an “A” grade were greenlined and those with a “D” grade were red and considered “hazardous.”

Redfin states that urban areas with a large share of African-American families were most likely to be redlined, while areas made up of white families were deemed favorable. 

The Fair Housing Act of 1968 made it unlawful to refuse to rent, sell, or provide financing for a house based on race, religion, and national origin. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) further outlawed redlining. 

Additionally, Redfin said the national homeownership rate is lower for African-American families than white families—44% compared to 73.7%, respectively. 

“The expanding homeownership gap between Black and white families can in part be traced back to diminished home equity due to redlining, as it’s one major reason why Black families today have less money than white families to purchase homes either as first-time or move-up homebuyers,” said Redfin Chief Economist Daryl Fairweather. “It’s important to note that other factors play a role in lower homeownership rates for Black families, too. For instance, employment discrimination has prevented Black workers from earning equitable income.”

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency recently released a final rule strengthening and modernizing the CRA. 

The final rule will increase bank CRA-related lending, investment, and services in low- and moderate-income communities where there is significant need for credit, more responsible lending, and greater access to banking services. The final rule reflects careful consideration of the more than 7,500 comments stakeholders submitted in response to the notice of proposed rulemaking announced on December 12, 2019. The OCC made several changes to the proposal that respond to stakeholders’ comments, including:

  • Clarifying the importance of the quantity and quality of activities as well as their value.
  • Increasing credit for mortgage origination to promote availability of affordable housing in low- and moderate-income areas.
  • Clarifying credit for athletic facilities to ensure they benefit and support low- and moderate-income communities.
  • Deferring establishment of thresholds for grading banks’ CRA performance and delineating banks’ deposit-based assessment areas until the OCC assesses improved data required by the final rule.

During a January hearing of the House Financial Services Committee, committee member Gregory Meeks noted there is still evidence of discrimination in lending—something the CRA was meant to solve. 

“Your proposal decouples CRA from outcomes for intended communities, discounts the value of direct lending in mortgages to low and moderate-income communities and communities of color, cuts out community organizations that work directly with these targeted communities, and is just not supported by data,” Meeks said of the now-former Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting’s proposal. 

Meeks added that numerous banks are opposed to the plan and community groups have called possible changes “betrayal of the original intent of the CRA.” 

About Author: Mike Albanese

A graduate of the University of Alabama, Mike Albanese has worked for news publications since 2011 in Texas and Colorado. He has built a portfolio of more than 1,000 articles, covering city government, police and crime, business, sports, and is experienced in crafting engaging features and enterprise pieces. He spent time as the sports editor for the "Pilot Point Post-Signal," and has covered the DFW Metroplex for several years. He has also assisted with sports coverage and editing duties with the "Dallas Morning News" and "Denton Record-Chronicle" over the past several years.
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