Black homeownership rate reaches 16-year high

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After four consecutive quarters of growth, the Black homeownership rate reached 47% in the second quarter of 2020, according to the Census Bureau.

Black homeownership has never broken the 50% threshold, with the all-time high of 49.7% coming in the second quarter of 2004.

"This current upward trend indicates to NAREB that concerted efforts to address and remove systemic barriers to Black homeownership, intentional and targeted programmatic initiatives, along with focused promotion of the wealth building benefits of homeownership appear to be shifting the tide," Donnell Williams, president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, said in a press release.

"I assure Black American prospective homebuyers that NAREB will continue to aggressively pursue our advocacy efforts nationally and be available to assist Black Americans considering homeownership," he added.

While the upswing brings promise, the Department of Housing and Urban Development's move to gut a statute in the Fair Housing Act on July 23 may present new roadblocks for Black homebuyers, according to advocates for housing equality. HUD's replacement measure allows local governments to verbally confirm that they’re following the fair housing rule, rather than having to prove it by providing data that the Obama rule required, they said.

The mortgage denial rate stands as one of the reasons why the Black community lags behind other races in homeownership. Black homebuyers get denied loans at a 12.64% clip compared to the overall rate of 6.15%, according to a recent study by LendingTree.

Additionally, the coronavirus had a disproportionately negative impact on housing for Black, Indigenous and People of Color and exposed a need for more affordable housing.

"We are painfully aware, however, of the disparate health and financial effects that the COVID-19 pandemic has inflicted on Black Americans and other vulnerable populations," Williams said. "Life, as we all knew it, is difficult to navigate now, and into the foreseeable future. At the same time, the dreams, and the plans for homeownership among Black Americans appear not to be squelched."

On July 28, a coalition of over 50 civil rights groups, including Americans for Financial Reform, the NAACP and National Consumer Law Center, sent a letter to the Senate demanding that mortgage and rental protections be incorporated in the next COVID-19 relief legislation.

"When staying home is the best protection against contracting or infecting others with COVID-19, it is critical that Congress enact common-sense mortgage protections that will make it possible for American homeowners to keep their homes and provide them with the stability they need to rebuild," the letter said.

"While the CARES Act provided important protections for homeowners with government-backed mortgages, these protections need to be expanded to the entire market and refined to provide more comprehensive assistance, especially when borrowers must repay deferred payment amounts."

The GOP's relief proposal is currently under negotiation in the Senate.

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