Racial gaps in homeownership run deep on Long Island, AG report shows
There are stark racial gaps in homeownership in every region of New York, according to a new report by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG)—and they cut deep in western Nassau and Suffolk counties.
The OAG’s report found that people of color have fewer mortgage applications, higher rates of denial for loans, and more expensive loans.
The study investigated how the history of housing and lending discrimination has yielded disparities, both among households of different races and neighborhoods of different races.
The disparities result in higher housing costs for homebuyers of color—making it harder for communities of color to build financial security and overcome decades of systemic discrimination in the housing market, New York Attorney General Letitia James said.
The report analyzed several datasets, including from the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) for bank-branch locations.
It said there is a clear lack of mortgage applications from neighborhoods of color at the western ends of both Nassau and Suffolk counties. The OAG’s report suggests this could be due to the failure of lenders to open branches in communities of color and build meaningful relationships there.
Fewer applications by people of color could also be due to a mistrust of financial institutions among these communities because of a history of predatory lending, the report stated.
Of those who do apply on Long Island, the OAG said that people of color were 37% more likely to be denied a loan than white applicants—even if they have higher credit scores.
Ian Wilder, executive director of Long Island Housing Services, said there needs to be structural changes to how banking is done.
“This is not a bug in the system. It’s how the system was built and was never changed,” said Wilder. “We need to change the system if we want a different outcome. The Attorney General’s Office did have some good suggestions, things like public banks. Also, they talk about better access to banking. We need to think about new systems to get people the money.”
The report did offer some solutions such as providing banking services at libraries or post offices, subsidizing down payments and interest rates for first-generation homebuyers and increasing resources for government agencies’ fair lending investigations.