The map to the right shows the overwhelming majority of subprime loans and foreclosures in New York City have been in minority neighborhoods. (Created by NEDAP via NY Times) The map tells an often-overlooked fact: the subprime crisis has hit minority neighborhoods harder than white ones.
The banking industry sometimes claims the differences in lending between whites and blacks and Hispanics are due to differences in credit and income. Although income plays a role, last year the New York Times reported that after controlling for the size of the loan and income of the borrower, blacks were 2.3 times more likely and Hispanics two times more likely than whites to have a high-cost loan. They cite the example of two neighborhoods in Detroit, both with median incomes around $50,000 — 70% of loans in the black neighborhood had high interest rates, while only 17% did in the white neighborhood.
Another study found that homeowners in upper income black neighborhoods (income above 120% AMI) were twice as likely to have subprime loans as homeowners in low-income (income below 80% AMI) white neighborhoods. Almost 40% of the loans in the affluent black neighborhood were subprime, versus 18% in the low income white neighborhood.
One article (PDF) thinks it is precisely that statistic that suggests something more – whether discrimination or a simple lack of prime lenders — is to blame:
The finding that upper income African-American borrowers rely more heavily on the subprime market than low-income White borrowers suggests that a portion of subprime lending is occurring with borrowers whose credit would qualify them for lower cost conventional prime loans. There is also evidence that the higher interest rates charged by subprime lenders cannot be fully explained solely as a function of the additional risks they bear. Thus, a greater presence by mainstream lenders could possibly reduce the high up-front fees and interest rates currently being paid by residents of low-income and minority neighborhoods.
The Times speculates in addition to a lack of prime lenders, other reasons could include aggressive sales in minority neighborhoods, less financial saavy, and lower net worth of minority lenders. Regardless, the stark numbers show that while the worst redlining may be behind us, the problem of equitable housing finance for urban neighborhoods still eludes us.