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Bernanke: Crisis Hit Minorities, Low-Income Families Hardest

In a ""speech"":http://www.federalreserve.gov/newsevents/speech/bernanke20121115a.htm Thursday at the ""Operation HOPE Global Financial Dignity Summit"":http://summit.operationhope.org/ in Atlanta, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke spoke of the amplified effect the housing crisis has had on minorities and low-income families across the country.


""Lower-income and minority communities are often disproportionately affected by problems in the national economy, and the effects of the housing bust have followed that unfortunate pattern,"" Bernanke stated.

He pointed out that while homeownership has declined for the nation overall, the decline has been steepest among households with incomes of $20,000 or less.

The homeownership decline among African Americans is also steeper than the national average, Bernanke said, referencing data from the ""Census Bureau"":http://www.census.gov/. The [COLUMN_BREAK]

homeownership rate has declined by 5 percentage points for African Americans from 2004 to 2012, while the remainder of the population has seen a decline of about 2 percentage points.

The effects of tightening credit standards follow the same trend, according to Bernanke. Since 2006, mortgage lending to African Americans and Hispanics has decreased by 65 percent, whereas mortgage lending to non-minorities has decreased by less than 50 percent.

Over the same time period, loan originations have decreased in lower-income neighborhoods by about 75 percent, while falling about 50 percent in middle- and upper-income neighborhoods.

""Indeed, as a result of the crisis, most or all of the hard-won gains in homeownership made by low-income and minority communities in the past 15 years or so have been reversed,"" Bernanke said.

According to Bernanke, two types of discrimination remain a risk for low-income and minority Americans hoping to purchase homes. They include redlining--discrimination against minority neighborhoods--and pricing discrimination--charging minorities more than non-minority borrowers.

""The Federal Reserve has been vigilant in identifying and stopping such abuses, and we remain committed to vigorous enforcement of the nation's fair lending laws,"" Bernanke said.

About Author: Krista Franks Brock

Krista Franks Brock is a professional writer and editor who has covered the mortgage banking and default servicing sectors since 2011. Previously, she served as managing editor of DS News and Southern Distinction, a regional lifestyle publication. Her work has appeared in a variety of print and online publications, including Consumers Digest, Dallas Style and Design, DS News and DSNews.com, MReport and theMReport.com. She holds degrees in journalism and art from the University of Georgia.

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