Systemic racism in New York’s housing market has cost minorities more than $200 million

November 1, 2023 Rob Abruzzese
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If you’re a person of color in New York, prepare to pay more for homeownership. 

A new report released by New York Attorney General Letitia James exposes profound systemic racism within New York’s housing market that causes disparities in homeownership rates and mortgage lending practices, revealing a system that has failed communities of color for decades.

The damning report, informed by data and expert testimonies, portrays a stark divide across all regions of New York State. 

White households are nearly twice as likely as households of color to own their home. Such gaps contribute directly to the widening racial wealth disparity, making it difficult for minority communities to secure their financial futures or break the cycle of systemic discrimination that has plagued the housing market.

News for those who live, work and play in Brooklyn and beyond

“Owning a home is an essential part of achieving the American dream and building wealth to pass on to future generations,” said Attorney General James. “Unfortunately, unequal access to affordable credit is still pervasive across our state, reinforcing the legacy of segregation, leading to a disparity in homeownership, and fueling the racial wealth gap.”

The Office of the Attorney General’s (OAG) analysis reveals that white homeownership is concentrated predominantly in white neighborhoods, leaving communities of color further marginalized. In Albany, the state’s capital, white households are 25% more likely than Asian households to own their home, and more than twice as likely as Black or Latino households.

Furthermore, communities of color don’t just face challenges in homeownership rates; they also face greater barriers in mortgage applications. Black and Latino New Yorkers are underrepresented among mortgage applicants, and those who do apply are denied at higher rates than their white counterparts — regardless of credit score, income, or loan size. High-credit-score applicants of color are denied mortgages at nearly double the rate of white applicants with similar financial standing.

Beyond the glaring racial gap in homeownership rates and mortgage approvals, the report uncovers that people of color pay a steep financial price for the systemic disparities. They are more likely to be charged higher interest rates, more likely to use costlier Federal Housing Administration loans, and less likely to be approved for refinancing. These added costs sum up to an eye-opening figure: more than $200 million more in borrowing costs for Black and Latino borrowers across the lifespan of their loans.

The report doesn’t just illuminate problems; it also suggests remedies. Among the policy recommendations are subsidized down payments and interest rates for first-time homebuyers, increased state funding for nonprofit financial institutions serving communities of color, and passing the New York Public Banking Act to foster public banks that could serve underrepresented communities.

Organizations across New York have praised the Attorney General’s efforts. Deyanira Del Rio, co-director of New Economy Project, stated, “We laud the Attorney General for issuing this timely and important report,” adding that bold strategies are needed to build community wealth and address racial inequality. Similarly, M. DeAnna Eason, executive director of Housing Opportunities Made Equal, Inc., said that the report “shines a light on a very serious wrong” and furthers the collective work to fight these systemic prejudices.


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