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HUD secretary: Bad enforcement of Fair Housing Act to blame for Black homeownership decline

During a wide-ranging interview for "Axios on HBO," I asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge why Black homeownership rates have gone down, while rates for Asians and Hispanics have gone up.

The big picture: "Part of our problem is that we have never totally enforced the Fair Housing Act," Fudge told me during a visit to her native Cleveland.


The bottom line: "That is why we are doing things like homeownership assistance, why we're addressing the student loan issue, why we're looking at how credit is distributed. For people of color, especially Black people, homeownership is wealth. It is not only wealth to us, but it is generational wealth."

What's next: One solution is a HUD plan, outlined in a Wall Street Journal article, that aims to help prospective home buyers by relaxing the calculation on their qualification for government-backed loans.

  • "Who has student debt?" Fudge said. "Poor people, Black people, brown people. We're the people who carry the most debt. And so the system's already skewed toward us not being creditworthy."

Fudge gave the example of a person who makes about $50,000 a year.

  • "If they want to purchase a home — maybe $200,000 or in that ballpark — [if] they have $75,000 worth of student debt, they don't qualify," she said. "Once we make the adjustments we're going to make, that same person will qualify."
  • She said that this hypothetical person would "qualify at a rate that gives them an opportunity to go into a home with some equity, but also be so vested in that home that they can afford to stay in that home."

Go deeper: The stark racial gap in homeownership

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