CLEVELAND — The Center for American Progress reported African American home ownership has dropped nearly nine percent in the U.S., according to recent census data, and said Cleveland has been impacted for a host of reasons.
Center American Progress Senior Policy Analyst Michela Zonta just released a report indicating on-going discriminatory lending practices by banks, a lack of enforcement of the 1968 Fair Housing Act and little to no recovery of housing values after the 2008 crash in African American neighborhoods are to blame for dropping African American home ownership.
“The African American community historically has been excluded from home ownership,” Zonta said. “50 years have passed and we still see this problem and we still see a concentration of poverty, not just in the cities, but also in the suburbs. It’s the responsibility of the federal government to step in and recognize that we still have this problem.”
Zonta's report calls for more funds appropriated for Fair Housing Initiatives Programs and for greater staffing at HUD and the office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
Professor Kermit Lind, with the Cleveland State Marshall College of Law, said the banking industry must give current African American homeowners an equal chance to keep up their houses so they don't lose them to code enforcement and foreclosure.
Lind believes equal access to loans would help to slow down dropping African American home ownership.
“African Americans are not returning to the housing market. The efforts of African Americans to get home improvement loans, rehab loans, the kind of loans that help people recover are not being made available," Lind said. “When it comes to the banking industry, we need to delve into the policies and practices that are done with the name of neutrality but are really continuing past practices when discrimination was still legal. Keep in mind, it's not only lending practices, but debt collecting practices— the practices dealing with code compliance."
Lind said banks can't continue on with discriminatory lending practices and unfairly deny loans to the African American community simply because they are not as profitable.
“Is that really a just response in the face of what people have been dealt in the arena of discrimination over generations? I don’t think so,” Lind said.