Racism in home lending

The Takeaway

This story was originally covered by PRI’s The Takeaway. For more, listen to the audio above.

There are laws in the United States protecting minorities from discrimination in the housing market. New studies, however, have found that blacks and Latinos have a harder time than whites in nearly every aspect of the home buying process.

“There still is definite racism, but the racism we’re seeing today is different,” Beth Kobliner told PRI’s The Takeaway. “This is statistically significant, randomly sampled, control-group studied racism.”

Mortgage lending to blacks and Latinos has plunged by more than 60 percent from five years ago, according to a new study by ComplienceTech using Federal Reserve Data. Some have questioned whether this is caused by economic inequalities, but other studies have pointed to racism.

Kobliner cites one study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development of 4,600 pairs of people that included a white person and a minority person. In “one in five rental situations, the white person received some kind of preferential treatment over the black tester,” Kobliner says, “and in one in four situations the white person received preferential treatment over the Hispanic person.”

“These are very controlled tests,” Kobliner stresses. White couples got better treatment “in terms of being able to view the housing unit, to inspect the unit, to get a better deal on a rental unit.” Kobliner says she realizes that racism is a serious charge to throw at banks, but she told The Takeaway: “It’s all about the data.”


The Takeaway” is a national morning news program, delivering the news and analysis you need to catch up, start your day, and prepare for what’s ahead. The show is a co-production of WNYC and PRI, in editorial collaboration with the BBC, The New York Times Radio, and WGBH.

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