Hearing on Racial Equity in Housing and Financial Services

Legislation | March 10, 2021 | by Linda Couch

The House Committee on Financial Services held a March 10 hearing on, “Justice for All: Achieving Racial Equity Through Fair Access to Housing and Financial Services.”

The House Committee on Financial Services held a March 10 hearing on, “Justice for All: Achieving Racial Equity Through Fair Access to Housing and Financial Services.”

After outlining the nation’s history as “marked by grave injustices against people of color,” Committee Chair Maxine Waters (D-CA), said, “It is an unfortunate truth that such injustices persist today, including in the form of barriers that systematically exclude people and communities of color from fair access to housing and homeownership; from access to credit, capital and other financial services; and from opportunities to lead and direct economic policy at the highest levels of the United States government and major corporations.” 

The hearing, which referenced more than twenty bills related to fair lending, discriminatory appraisals, and credit building, touched on access to capital, credit and financial services, fair housing and homeownership, and diversity in executive ranks and boards.

“Despite the passage of the Fair Housing Act and Equal Credit Opportunity Act a half century ago, access to quality, affordable housing opportunities and housing finance options remain a central barrier to racial and economic justice in the U.S. As of 2019, over 60% of people experiencing homelessness were Black and Latinx. Prior to the current pandemic, over half of all Black and Latinx renters were paying more than 30% of their income on rent, with people of color facing the highest rates of eviction nationally. As housing costs have outpaced stagnant wages for decades, the ability for families, especially renters, to build up their savings, buy a home, and build wealth is highly limited,” the Committee memorandum for the hearing says.

 

“Today, owning a home represents the single greatest driver of wealth for most families across the country. Yet, up until the mid-20th Century, Black families and other people of color were often barred from living or securing home financing outside of racially and ethnically segregated communities, or from owning a home altogether as a result of government-sanctioned redlining. In the final quarter of 2019, the homeownership rate among Black and Latinx individuals continued to lag at 44 and 48.1%, respectively, compared to 73.7% for White households. In 2019, the same year that the Black homeownership rate (40.9%) fell to its lowest level since the late 1960s, White families held a median net worth of $188,200, which was over 7 times that of the median net worth of Black families ($24,100) and over 5 times that of Latinx families ($36,100),” the memo says.