Further Coverage of Racially-Influenced Mortgages

Brian McNeill writes in the Progress today about the alarming new study that black Charlottesville-area homeowners are substantially more likely to have a high-cost mortgage than whites. Unfortunately, what McNeill found is mostly stonewalling. The Mortgage Bankers Association says that this is “oversimplifying a complex issue,” which may well be true, but they fail to provide a more complex description that would explain things. Charlottesville-area lenders wouldn’t talk to McNeill. And the Virginia Mortgage Lenders Association both says she doesn’t know and guesses the problem comes from out-of-state firms, which just sounds like wishful thinking. The only particularly useful answer comes from the Virginia Poverty Law Center, which points out that subprime lenders “market themselves to black communities by advertising on hip-hop radio stations and urban-focused television stations,” though even that falls short without knowing whether that’s taking place in Charlottesville and, if so, if it’s happening at a rate greater than anywhere else in the country.

It’s not McNeill’s fault that mortgage brokers aren’t eager to talk about racial disparity in their lending, of course, but it remains that a symptom has been identified, but we just can’t locate its cause.

Local mortgage broker Michael Martin provided a useful comment on the topic, writing in part:

I know there are the scoundrels in the mortgage business. The worst one I know of was a non-white who preyed on anyone, regardless of color. He would get massive phone lists of local people with bad credit, call them and arm twist them into the most outrageous refinances. He made up to forty grand a month this way, mostly to finance a prodigious crack addiction. He would even make deals while in prison, calling from the yard with a cell phone, having his mother show up at closing to make sure the suckers signed the loan docs.
He didn’t care about race. Im his own twisted way, he actually thought he was helping his clients. There were only two things that his victims shared: gullibility and naiveté.

All of which, I have to say, reminds me very much of the “We Buy Houses” scams.

17 thoughts on “Further Coverage of Racially-Influenced Mortgages”

  1. Lonnie makes a great point, showing that I’m far too dense to have any business running a site like this:

    The Daily Progress article definitely sheds a new light on this topic. It might be summarized this way:

    Predatory Lending to minorities Massive home sales = #1 racial disparity in rates

    In other words, it isn’t racism that got us this rating, but a large amount of homes sales and new residents. Since predatory lending to minorities is a national, not local, phenomena then I’m not sure it necessarily says anything useful concerning attitudes towards race locally. That Even so, that doensn’t mean we can’t do something about it locally, by discouraging these subprime predatory lenders, and better educating local minorities.

  2. Thanks Waldo, but I sure wish I hadn’t used the word “educating” in the same response where I had so many editing mistakes! :)

    I also would agree that there are still alot of unanswered questions here. For example, what role are local mortgage companies playing verus out-of-state firms?

    Also, can we confirm that this kind of marketing of subprime loans to minorities is happening on local stations and media outlets? If so, then someone should confront them about that.


  3. Something that interests me, but is kind of tangential to the conversation: Martin says, “In his own twisted way, he actually thought he was helping his clients.”

    This is something that absolutely fascinates me about human nature: you know that crooks, thieves, killers, racists and so forth can have a positive view of themselves, or actually might be pretty good people as long as you are not at the receiving end of their particular evil.

    Strange, ok now back to the topic at hand:

  4. This is really only an issue of interest if in these cases black folks with the same credit rating and income history received crappier morthgages.

    As far as marketing on Hip Hop stations of course they would. Most of the listeners are probably younger, have less income, and are more likely to have poor credit – not because of the race, but because of the age. There are probably not too many 50 year old doctors of any color listening to hip hop radio. I don’t think that is the targteted demographic of hip hop radio. Plenty of white kids listen to hip hop as well – targeting these listenters is not automatically a racial incident.

    Make no mistake – if you are poor, have poor credit, or are just plain ignorant there are lenders out there that want what little money you have left and will stop at nothing to get it. Regardless of what color your skin is.

  5. The story has gone national. I am not sure if it is the same study but MSNBC now has it up on their site. (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19699330/) They didn’t specifically mention Charlottesville so I guess this town will be spared some embarrassment (though I’m not sure it deserves it).

  6. It seems to me that everyone in this town is grasping for a reason to scream racism. I guess it makes the liberal white well-to-do class feel less guilty for the fruits of their hard work. Not sure if this town is really full of good intended misguided liberals or a bunch of hypocrites.

  7. The report on mortgage lending didn’t come from this area. It was presented by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition in Washington. So, whoever they are, they are screaming racism in Charlottesville.

  8. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC)…ya know, with a name like that, you don’t have to go to their website to figure out what they’re all about, but I did anyway. “The NCRC is the nation’s foremost trade association for economic justice…” which is I guess polls better than saying “We’re a bunch of socialists.” Of course, that doesn’t mean their study’s flawed, but it doesn’t do much to burnish their credentials either.

  9. I used to do some graphics and publishing for the NCRC back in the early 90s. I got to know pretty much everyone on staff and they were great folks. Do they have an agenda? Yeah. It is trying to do away with racist practices that are related to all aspects of buying a home. Does it mean their #s are skewed? Probably, but I would stress “skewed” as opposed to “completely fabricated to make our point.”

    If the NCRC says C’ville is bad, bad, bad, I would probably agree that we are at least bad, bad.

  10. My barber says, and I`ve never found him in error, says racism in Charlottesville is prominent and not improving.

  11. Ever heard of “institutional racism”? That’s when rules and laws are based on race BUT you can’t say which race the discrimination applies to. A famous example would be long prison sentences for crack and lighter punishment for powder cocaine. So you find a trait that’s common to the culture and write the law to apply to that trait, and declare the law applies equally to everyone. Institutional racism “must” be the explanation for blacks (politicians, policemen, etc) who participate in anti-black practices.

    The only people surprised at the ubiquitous racism that dare not speak its name are people who moved here yesterday and those in denial. My childhood visits to Durham (longest 3 months 1978) and short visits as an adult (NCSU grad) inform me that Durham and Cville are very much similar.

    How come the Daily Progress can’t print a factual letter on the history of Jefferson School?? “Jefferson School: The Original Model for Public Education in Virginia”, Jul. 8

  12. Or maybe society, through its elected representatives, made a rational determination that trafficking in crack resulted in more violence than other types of drugs and fixed the penalty accordingly.

    Durham and C’ville are similar? Does that mean 3 white UVA lacrosse players are about to be railroaded based on nothing more than the lies of a female black stripper and the Jesus-complex of a liberal Atticus Finch wannabe?

  13. Falstaff, thanks for your perspective. I’m sorry you don’t respect the perspective of others. According to your logic, Durham and Charlottesville are not at all similar. Of course not; they’re spelled differently. An anology allows one to point out similarities between two very different objects. Obviously, according to the article which is the subject of this particular blog posting, I’m not the only who thinks Cville and Durham are similar, at least in the racial atmosphere and cultural history. Maybe, when I visit Durham, I stay in different part of town than you and talk to people you’ve never met. But you do agree with the Progress’ Jefferson School rule, right?

  14. Whadyamean I don’t “respect the perspective of others?” I respect your perspective (say that 10 times fast) I just disagree. That’s still okay, right?

    You’re arguing Durham is some hotbed of neo-Jim Crowism which we here would be well-served not to emulate, and I’m telling you the chief law enforcement officer of that town was just disbarred in disgrace for trying to send 3 innocent white kids to prison based on the shaky testimony of some black trollop who changed her story more than her underwear. Are you kiddin’ me?

    You’ve got the biggest employer in Durham, Duke, siding with the stripper and 88 members of its faculty taking out an ad thanking a lynch mob. Do you really think UVA, the biggest employer in C’ville, would react any differntly given a situation where the race, sex, and class issues were just too good to check. Please. We’re like Durham alright – just not the way you think we are.

  15. “You’re arguing Durham is some hotbed of neo-Jim Crowism which we here would be well-served not to emulate”

    That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying Durham and Cville are both hotbeds of neo-Jim Crowism bolstered by an elite, historically white university. UVA has racial incidents every year. Both cities have organized black-on-white street violence. If the UVA lacrosse team has a similar party with a black stripper who makes a similar false claim, there’s no reason to think history wouldn’t repeat here. When the dust settles in Durham, the town looks like most other southern towns still controlled by the party of public housing, segregation and slavery. Cville happens to resemble Durham in the Jim Crow-aspect a little more than most other places. Sorta like a third cousin who doesn’t resemble you on the surface, but the personality is so similar that a common ancestor is hard to deny.

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