In 2018, Reveal News, from the Center for Investigative Reporting, released an analysis of mortgage lending in communities across the United States; that analysis was described in the story Kept Out. Based principally on their analysis of Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data, Reveal “…found a pattern of troubling denials for people of color across the country, including in major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Detroit, Philadelphia, St. Louis and San Antonio.”
The statistical analysis was supported with a series of interviews conducted by Reveal reporters Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez — some of which were of Black Philadelphians relating the difficulty they encountered in the mortgage lending process. Glantz and Martinez also presented a more detailed Philadelphia case study that presented both the city’s HMDA data and interviewees — people who wanted to obtain mortgages and others (e.g., realtors) who worked with the mortgage applicants.
So disturbing were the findings in this report that the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) decided more needed to be learned about the problems people experience in the process of getting credit and buying a home. Because PHFA supports a network of housing counselors that work with a significant number of people who wish to become first-time homebuyers, there was a unique opportunity to create a program and study the experiences of counseling clients in order to get a more nuanced and complete picture of the differential experiences of White people and people of color. PHFA enlisted the support of several counseling agencies, and Reinvestment Fund’s Policy Solutions, to chronicle and analyze those experiences. PHFA called the program Barriers to Homeownership.
Key findings from the report include:
Ira Goldstein, Ph.D., is the President of Policy Solutions at Reinvestment Fund, a results-oriented, socially responsible community investment group. Dr. Goldstein has conducted detailed spatial and statistical analyses in many cities and regions across the US.
Colin Weidig conducts evaluations, strategic planning, and quantitative analyses for philanthropic, government, and private clients. Employing both quantitative (including spatial, statistical, and analytics-based) and qualitative (including interviews and focus groups) analyses, Mr. Weidig uses research to help clients better understand their markets, programs, and policy advocacy.
Marci Monaco-Vavrik is the 2020 inaugural Jeremy Nowak Fellow at Reinvestment Fund. This competitive fellowship was created in honor of the late founder of Reinvestment Fund, Jeremy Nowak. She is currently involved with a project on Philadelphia’s property tax assessment system and a national study partnering with the Institute of Museum and Library Services to assess the impact of libraries and museums on the social wellbeing of communities.
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