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CUOMO SAYS HUD WILL REVIEW REPORT BY FAIR HOUSING COUNCIL OF GREATER WASHINGTON AS PART OF LENDING DISCRIMINATION STUDY
WASHINGTON - Housing and Urban Development Secretary Andrew Cuomo today said HUD will review a Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington report on fair lending practices, as part of HUD's study of the problem of mortgage lending discrimination in America's cities.
The Fair Housing Council's report, financed in part by a grant from HUD, concluded that African Americans and Latinos seeking mortgages to purchase homes in the Washington metropolitan area are much more likely to encounter discrimination than their white neighbors.
HUD's recently announced nationwide study of lending discrimination is a response to calls by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, The National Conference of Black Mayors, the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, the Congress of National Black Churches, and 100 Black Men of America, Inc. for such a probe, as part of an effort to close the "homeownership gap" that divides suburbs from cities and whites from minorities.
"We welcome the involvement of the Fair Housing Council of Greater Washington and other groups in calling attention to the problem of mortgage lending discrimination, and to the need for increased minority homeownership," Cuomo said. "The homeownership gap remains far too wide. All Americans - no matter where they live, no matter what their race or ethnicity - have a legal right under the Fair Housing Act to be treated equally when they apply for a home mortgage. We will ensure that this legal right is enforced."
Cuomo said HUD will issue a report later this year on the extent of mortgage lending discrimination, after completing its study of the problem.
According to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau, in 1997 the nation's homeownership rate hit a record high of 65.7 percent. However, while the homeownership rate was 72.5 percent in suburbs last year, it was only 49.9 percent in cities, where low- and moderate-income residents and minorities are disproportionately concentrated. The data show that the homeownership rate last year was 72 percent among whites, but only 45.4 percent among African Americans and just 43.3 percent among Hispanics.
A U.S. Conference of Mayors report issued Feb. 23, titled "America's Homeownership Gap," said statistics collected by the Federal Reserve Board show that "minority households applying for mortgage credit were much more likely to be rejected than white households with similar income." For example, the data showed that only 10 percent of white applicants with incomes between 100 and 120 percent of the area median are denied conventional mortgages. The denial rate for Hispanics with the same income range jumps to 19.6 percent, and more than doubles to 22.8 percent for African Americans.
The Fair Housing Act bars housing discrimination on account of race, color, religion, sex, disability, family status and national origin. The Act covers the sale, rental, financing and advertising of almost all housing in the nation.
President Clinton's proposed 1999 federal budget seeks $22 million in increased funding for HUD to intensify the fight against housing discrimination. The 73 percent increase for HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity would boost spending by the office to $52 million.
Content Archived: January 20, 2009