Black and Latino Home Buyers in L.A. Still Face Discrimination in 2016

The American dream, Boyle Heights–style
The American dream, Boyle Heights–style

Keeping a roof over your head in L.A. is hard enough, but a new report suggests it could be even more difficult for the city's minorities.

Real estate listings site Zillow today revealed in a new analysis of credit for people of color that African-Americans and Latinos were denied home loans at higher rates than whites in the Los Angeles market.

Blacks were denied conventional loans nearly 17 out of 100 times, Latinos were blocked 12.9 percent of the time, and Asian-Americans 11.1 percent of the time, Zillow found. White applicants were denied at a rate of 9.9 percent, according to the analysis.

"These differences will persist unless there's a big intentional change," says Zillow senior economist Skylar Olsen.

On a national level, however, those rates have been improving as barriers to credit have been lowered in the wake of the Great Depression's credit clampdown, she says. Zillow looked at Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data from 2009 to 2015 and found that denial rates for blacks and Latinos have been shrinking.

"The drop in denial rates was particularly significant for minority groups," according to a Zillow brief on the analysis. "The conventional loan denial rate for black applicants fell from 27.6 percent in 2013 to 22.4 percent in 2015; for Hispanic applicants, the conventional loan denial rate fell from 21.9 percent to 17.3 percent. ... But mortgage applications from blacks and Hispanics are still denied at more than twice the rate of those submitted by white applicants."

Los Angeles fared better on this issue than a number of other markets, including Las Vegas, where 15.6 percent of Asian-Americans, 17.3 percent of African-Americans and 13.3 percent of Latinos were denied last year, according to Zillow. The white denial rate for conventional loan applicants in Vegas was 10.3 percent. New York saw 13.8 percent of Asian-Americans, 24.0 percent of blacks and 19.7 percent of Latinos denied for conventional home loans, the site found. The white denial rate was 10.5 percent.

Zillow's own survey found that 68 percent of Latino respondents and 65 percent of black respondents considered home ownership "necessary to living the American dream," according to the site. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have responded with programs that attempt to improve access to home loans for people of color. "Now we have a movement to extend credit to more minority groups," economist Olsen said.

"Even though conditions have improved over the past few years, getting approved for a mortgage is still a significant barrier for some would-be buyers," said Zillow chief economist Svenja Gudell. "Owning a home is an important way for the middle class to build personal wealth. It’s encouraging to see more black and Hispanic borrowers getting approved for mortgages, but there’s still a lot of progress that needs to be made."

Black and Latino Home Buyers in L.A. Still Face Discrimination in 2016
Zillow

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