DS News

DS News Jan 2023

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Page 21 of 83

20 STUDY: PEOPLE OF COLOR LESS LIKELY TO OWN THEIR HOMES According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, in the past two years, a growing number of for-profit and nonprofit lenders have created special purpose credit programs (SPCPs) that aim to address some of the longstanding policies and practices that have impeded homeownership by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) households. e programs attempt to address large racial and ethnic differences in homeowner- ship rates. Across the United States, 47% of households headed by people of color owned their home compared to 72% of white house- holds, according to Center tabulations of the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey 5-Year estimates for 2015–2019. Racial homeownership gaps are even more pronounced in the six New England states, the geographic focus of the research, which was funded by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. Just 38% of households headed by people of color owned their homes in the re- gion compared with 72% of white households. ese gaps are present in all six New England States and are widest for Black and Hispanic households. People of Color are far less likely to own their homes than white households in the United States overall. Several factors have contributed to these differences. Due to a history of exclusion and predatory financial practices along racial lines, households of color tend to have lower savings and are less likely to benefit from intergener- ational transfers of wealth than white house- holds. Discrimination has also resulted in households of color often having lower credit ratings than otherwise similar white house- holds. And when potential homeowners of color do secure a mortgage, they often receive higher interest rates than white borrowers who have the same (or even less) income. While the Fair Housing Act has pro- hibited explicit discrimination in housing since 1968, the passage of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA) in 1974 expressly allowed for the creation of credit products that serve "an economically disadvantaged class of persons." By permitting nonprofit and for-profit lenders to extend credit on favor- able terms to customers identified by a shared characteristic, ECOA created an opportunity for lenders to specifically address documented disparities in lending. However, until recently, few lenders have tried to use SPCPs to address racial inequities in homeownership. To better understand the variety of approaches that organizations are taking with their SPCPs, 18 practitioners were interviewed who are responsible for 12 programs across the country, including five SPCPs. is research revealed several key decision points that entities have to make when creating an SPCP. ese include the following: Objectives e SPCPs examined share similar ambi- tions, though their main objectives often differ. Initiatives like the Champlain Housing Trust's Homeownership Equity Program emphasize expanding access to homeownership, especially for BIPOC households, while others, like the LISC San Diego Black Homebuyers Pro- gram, prioritize generating wealth in BIPOC communities, using homeownership as a tool toward that end. Another common objec- tive is to create housing stability in BIPOC communities, which programs like the Chase Homebuyer Grant and Wells Fargo's SPCP prioritize. While these objectives often overlap, each program's priority informs its structure to a large extent. Eligibility One of the primary debates in designing an SPCP is whether it should be place- or people-based. Place-based programs use geography to designate potential customers. For example, the Chase Homebuyer Grant is offered to anyone buying a primary residence in one of 6,700 majority-Black census tracts. is approach emphasizes supporting existing BIPOC communities. However, critics note that such programs could subsidize homebuy- Journal

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