Minorities Lose In Housing Crisis

The housing crisis has affected many Americans, but, not surprisingly, some groups have been more vulnerable than others.

That uneven state of affairs was predicted in 2008 by the Institute for Southern Studies, which featured on its website a number of items under the heading: "The housing crisis: An assault on black and Latino economic progress."

Among other things, it cited a study by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies that reported that "the rate of subprime mortgages for Latinos and African Americans is about double the rate for whites." It also quoted an AFL-CIO blog at the time as reporting that the home foreclosure crisis has been "especially devastating for blacks and Latinos -- draining billions of dollars in wealth built up over decades."

Jump ahead now to the present day and a new study....this time in Chicago. It reveals that the earlier concerns were apparently well grounded.

The new report published by the University of Nortre Dame's Institute for Latino Studies is on the effects of the housing crisis on Latino neighborhoods in Chicago.

And, while the study is confined to the Windy City, there is little reason to believe that its conclusions would not likely apply to other Latino communities across the United States. Funny the way these things tend to go down!

A news release announcing the publication of the study says, "a combination of socioeconomic vulnerability and riskier credits contributes to the fact that Latinos entered this crisis in a severely disadvantaged position."

And, according to the report's conclusions, things only went down hill from there.

While the study finds that the housing crisis has had a negative effect on just about all groups and communities in the Chicago area, it says not all groups have been affected equally.

"In general, Latino areas appear to have been more affected than white areas but are not facing consequences as severe as African American areas," the study concludes.

The study found that the property value loss in mostly Latino neighborhoods of Chicago was more similar to African-American areas than to areas where whites make up 90 percent or more of the total population.

Another example given by the report: "around 24 percent of first-time mortgages and 32 percent of refinance applications made by Latinos get denied, compared to 10 and 19 percent for whites, respectively."

Minorities have long been targeted by unscrupulous elements in real estate. Once, they were the victim of redlining - a practice named for the red lines drawn on maps around areas where banks would not lend. Recently, the U.S. Department of Justice launched a new unit specifically to fight racial discrimination in lending, including mortgage lending.

Let's hope it helps.

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media critics and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle."

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