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Historically, New York City renters far outnumber owners, and while the economic aftershocks of the pandemic and shutdown made those numbers more lopsided, they impacted Black and Hispanic owners even more dramatically.
The drop illustrates how minorities are more vulnerable to economic jolts and experience greater obstacles to obtaining financing and building intergenerational wealth.
For example, a report from the NYU Furman Center finds that across NYC, Asian households had the highest homeownership rate in 2019 (42.2 percent), followed by whites (41.2 percent). Rates for Black and Hispanic owners were 26.6 and 15.9 percent.
Then the pandemic left its mark: The report found that home purchase originations (the number of new mortgages) dropped across all boroughs except Staten Island from 2019 to 2020. Black borrowers saw the largest decrease in home loan originations (-13.9 percent) between 2019 and 2020.
“This decline occurred just one year after a 17.2 percent increase among Black borrowers in the year prior,” the report notes.
An ‘exodus’ of Black families leaving NYC
After NYC reopened following the pandemic shutdown, prices went sky-high and have stayed close to those record levels. At the same time, mortgage rates climbed, putting homeownership farther out of reach for many New Yorkers.
It comes as an “exodus” of Black families are leaving, heading to places where real estate is more spacious and affordable, The New York Times recently reported, leading to a drop in the city’s Black population by nearly 200,000 over the past two decades, according to Census data.
Athenia Rodney is Black and a lifelong Brooklynite who recently bought a five-bedroom house in Georgia. She told the Times, “I felt like it became increasingly difficult to raise a family in New York.”
Black-white homeownership gap undermines progress
Homeownership is not just about shelter, but building intergenerational wealth, points out Shadi Bushra, writing for Today’s Homeowner, a home improvement website. With fewer Black families owning homes, there are fewer opportunities to transfer homes to the next generation, he notes.
The gap “between Black and white homeownership rates is an important gauge of how we, as a country, have progressed toward the goals of equitable access to homeownership. By that measure, we have backtracked in terms of equality between Black and white families,” he writes.
Bias in lending and among brokers
Discriminatory practices like “redlining,” which block access to financing to prevent Black people from owning property, are not relegated to the past. In 2019, the Center for Investigative Reporting, along with Reveal, WNYC's news program, found evidence of redlining in 61 metro areas from Oklahoma to Florida and as close to home as New Jersey.
Also in 2019, a bombshell investigative report by Newsday revealed that almost half of all Black homebuyers and renters on Long Island are likely to face discrimination from real estate agents and brokers.
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