Eduardo Cuevas, Journal News, March 14, 2022
White people made up less than a third of Yonkers’ population in the 2020 census but were two-thirds of homeowners, according to 2019 census estimates the city uses.
Black people, meanwhile, were just over 10% of homeowners despite accounting for 18% of the city. And although Latinos accounted for 42% of the city in 2020, they were only 16% of homeowners the year prior.
A new program based in Yonkers aims to address the racial gap in homeownership by supporting first-time homebuyers as they navigate institutions that have discriminated against communities of color, especially Black people.
The Bailey Initiative, a local organization, partnered with the city of Yonkers and PCSB Bank to launch the Homeownership Promotes Equity, or HOPE, program. In late February, the program’s first cohort of eight people finished its four-week course on Zoom. Topics range from budgeting to evaluating credit needed to apply for a mortgage.
Duneshia Griffiths, a 43-year-old banker from Mount Vernon, hopes to eventually own an investment property. However, she plans to pass information from the program to other Black and brown families in her community.
“They don’t necessarily understand that concept of what homeownership can bring for your legacy,” Griffiths said. “Not just for yourself, but for your kids and your kids’ kids.”
In 2020, Federal Reserve staff estimated white families typically have eight times the wealth of Black families and five times that of Latino families. Officials defined wealth as the difference between gross assets and liabilities. Experts say the racial wealth gap is growing.
A key wealth-building asset has been owning a home. Nationwide, white households tended to have a homeownership rate of around 74% in the fourth quarter of 2021, compared to around 43% for Black people and 48% for Latinos, according to Census Bureau statistics. Disparities have worsened from the early 2000s.
This has been exacerbated by historic discriminatory lending practices, redlining and exclusion from federal programs that allowed white families to own homes and pass wealth from generation to generation.
In 2020, Black people were denied mortgages at a rate of 84% higher than white applicants, an increase from the previous year, according to a recent Zillow analysis using data from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act. Issues with credit and savings, spurred in part by income inequality, exacerbated this, researchers said.
If they are approved, Black people often are subject to predatory lending practices with high-cost, subprime loans making it difficult to pay off mortgages, which contributed to the 2010 foreclosure crisis, per a 2018 study published in the journal, Housing Studies.