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Coalition calls for predatory lending legislation to protect minority homebuyers

April 25, 2006
An elderly homeowner, sick in the hospital, signs for a consolidation loan to pay her mounting medical bills. Too late, she discovers she's fallen victim to a lender who preys on minorities, women and the elderly desperate to find a way out of rising debt. She loses her home.
     According to experts, homeowners lose an estimated $9.1 billion each year as a result of predatory mortgage lending practices.

Unfair housing practices divide races

April 23, 2006
April is Fair Housing Month, the perfect time to examine some of the more sobering realities of housing in America.
     As Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, incidents of housing discrimination still abound. The homeownership divide between blacks and whites is strikingly wide. And housing has become less and less affordable in most major metropolitan areas.

Congress must act to end housing bias

April 18, 2006
Although many other stories are grabbing the headlines, it will be a serious blow to opportunity if Congress ignores the Department of Housing and Urban Development as it celebrates the 38th annual Fair Housing Month and sends its corresponding yearly report to lawmakers this month.
     The HUD report says race-based discrimination makes up nearly 40 percent of housing complaints. Housing discrimination in any form is unacceptable. But continuing discrimination with regard to race could cost the country its future.

Fair Housing study blasts realty agents for alleged 'steering and racial discrimination

April 10, 2006
Fair Housing Study Blasts Realty Agents for Alleged "Steering" and Racial Discrimination by Kenneth R. Harney
     In a scathing report, the National Fair Housing Alliance last week claimed that racially-motivated steering and unequal treatment of African-American and Latino home seekers are commonplace practices by some realty agents.
     The nonprofit fair housing group says it conducted "paired sales tests" in 12 metropolitan areas between early 2003 and mid-2005. The tests involved whites, Latinos and African-Americans posing as prospective home buyers in repeat visits to realty brokerage firms to detect any patterns of differential treatment by agents. The "tests were structured to capture detailed information about agent and (realty) company policies and practices," said in the report.

Blacks losing ground in economic race

March 30, 2006
In communities across the United States, times are tough for many, but the financial status of black Americans looks especially dire and continues to lag far behind that of whites, according to a new report released Wednesday
     Themed "Opportunity Compact," the 2006 edition of an annual report by the liberal think tank National Urban League (NUL), relays mostly negative trends in disparity between blacks and whites.

Advocates fight inflated house appraisals

February 05, 2006
A national advocacy group is targeting appraisal fraud as a cause of foreclosures and promoting a new code of conduct for appraisers.
     Appraisal fraud usually involves mortgage brokers or homeowners pressuring appraisers to meet a certain mark in their valuation of a home, according to David Berenbaum, executive vice president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. The appraiser might manipulate the size of a home by describing an unfinished area as finished or by adding an extra room or bedroom. "That is a common technique for fraud," he said.

Mortgage funds pledged to combat predatory lending

February 02, 2006
The practice of predatory lending strips billions of dollars in home equity from low-income and minority consumers each year, according to the Center for Responsible Lending, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization.
     Consumer groups try hard to draw attention to this problem. But it's hard to get sympathy or needed federal legislation enacted for low-income borrowers or people with poor credit because, often, the sentiment is that these folks get what they deserve.

Immigration fuels housing battles

January 30, 2006
Overcrowded housing is emerging as a battleground in the national debate over immigration as towns and counties crack down on landlords who permit many unrelated people to occupy single-family homes.
     Local officials in New York, Virginia, Massachusetts and Georgia have evicted residents, threatened landlords with fines or jail time or legally narrowed the definition of family to combat a problem they say disrupts neighborhoods.
     

OPINION: Closing the door on Americans' housing choices

September 20, 2005
Newspapers and TV commentaries around the country have been buzzing with alarm about skyrocketing housing prices. But for many Americans, spiraling home prices and rents aren't the only barriers to housing opportunity and choice. Discrimination - by landlords, real estate agents, and mortgage lenders - stands in the way of too many families searching for a place to live.
     Discrimination isn't as overt as it once was; often it is so subtle that victims don't even recognize it. Real estate agents no longer tell African Americans that they are unwelcome in a white subdivision. But an African-American couple visiting a real estate agent is shown fewer homes and less affluent neighborhoods than a comparable white couple. And landlords don't tell disabled applicants not to apply. But a deaf woman, using a TTY system to gather information about advertised rentals, can't get anybody to accept her calls or answer her questions.
     Compelling evidence that discrimination persists comes from a recent series of "paired-testing" studies by the Urban Institute. In a paired test, two people (one minority and one white, or one disabled and one non-disabled) pose as equally qualified homeseekers. Both call or visit a real estate agent or landlord to ask about a house or apartment advertised as available. Both make exactly the same request and record all the information and service they receive.
     Because the only difference between these two customers is their race or disability status, they should receive the same information and assistance. Systematic differences in treatment - telling the minority customer that an apartment is no longer available when the white customer is told he could move in next month, for example - provide direct evidence of discrimination. Paired testing catches housing providers in the act of discriminating.

Discrimination, segregation still prevalent in housing

June 22, 2005
On her way out of the courtroom, just after an eviction order against her had been overturned, Eboni SternJohn was relieved, but still troubled. The young graduate student and her husband, Julius, approached the representative of her building’s property management company, seeking an explanation. Eboni later recalled that the representative rebuffed them, turned away, and muttered that he was "tired of dealing with n*****s."
     The shock, she remarked in an interview, was only temporary, as the remark merely confirmed the couple’s growing suspicions. She recalled, since taking over their multiethnic apartment building in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the new landlord had not only ignored the repeated requests for maintenance repairs from minority tenants, but had also issued a slew of eviction notices aimed at residents of color.
     The courtroom incident, Eboni told The NewStandard, removed any remaining doubt that "we were in for a fight, and it was definitely based on race."

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