Mint Images/Mint Images RF/Getty Images

Mortgage discrimination still fuels America's wealth disparity, research confirms

There’s new, disappointing evidence that confirms racial discrimination in mortgage lending practices is alive and well. According to research released earlier this month, Black and Latinx voters are more likely to be refused a home loan. If they are approved, they are likely to be offered a high interest rate loan, the study says. So not only are Black and brown people being unfairly denied of fulfilling the American dream of home ownership, but they are also being kept from real-estate-based wealth accumulation which inevitably perpetuates our ongoing racial wealth gap.

The research, published in the journal Race and Social Justice Problems, tracked housing and mortgage lending practices from 1976 to 2016. Over the course of 40 years, what the researchers found was that while some forms of discrimination did decrease in that time period, notably discrimination which, “involves direct denial of housing availability,” according to the study, mortgage lending practices remain largely unchanged. This means that when realtors and the like show homes, they do not necessarily tell POC that there’s nothing available. But when potential Black and Latinx buyers shop for these homes, they are often denied mortgage loans.

Morsa Images/E+/Getty Images

The researcher’s findings are a harsh indictment of our culture of discrimination. "It was distressing to find no evidence of reduced discrimination in the mortgage market over the last 35 years," said Lincoln Quillian, lead author of the study and professor of sociology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern, in a EurekAlert report. It’s the more subtle forms of discrimination, he added, that helps maintain residential segregation.

"Discrimination in the mortgage market makes it more difficult for minority households to build wealth through housing, contributing to racial wealth gaps,” Quillan said, in the report. To be clear, then, mortgage and housing discrimination don’t just create inquality in housing, they create a snowball effect that contributes to persistant wealth inequality.

This research underscores the importance of fighting Trump’s attempts to dismantle the Fair Housing Act. “The results suggest that anti-discrimination enforcement in the housing and mortgage markets should continue, and efforts should be increased to ensure that all home seekers receive equal treatment regardless of their race or ethnic background,” according to EurekAlert.

This research confirms that despite white liberals’ supposed shifts in racial awareness, not much has changed, materially, in the past four decades. In a lukewarm reach toward hope, the researchers conclude that “anti-discrimination enforcement in the housing and mortgage markets should continue.” A little more awareness, and a lot more outrage might could also help speed up the process toward a more fair housing market.