Local News

Report: Fair Housing Center Needed to Fight Discrimination

Posted September 18, 2007 6:08 p.m. EDT
Updated September 18, 2007 6:31 p.m. EDT

— Minorities in Raleigh have a harder time obtaining mortgages, and the city should establish a department to educate consumers and enforce fair housing laws, according to a draft city report released Tuesday.

The "Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice" report, conducted over the past year to comply with federal grants Raleigh receives, found that minorities originated 23.7 percent of mortgages in the city in 2005 but accounted for 41.1 percent of denied home loans.

Overall, more than 15 percent of mortgages to minority borrowers were rejected, compared with 7 percent of mortgages to whites, the report showed. Among low- and moderate-income borrowers, 21 percent of minorities were denied mortgages, compared with 10.3 percent of whites. At higher income levels, 9.3 percent of minority applicants were rejected, compared with 4.9 percent of whites.

"Despite similar income levels, minorities have a higher rate of denial than non-minorities," the report said. "There may be additional factors; however, the primary factor appears to be minority status."

The report recommended creating a city fair housing department to encourage and monitor fair lending practices.

Such a center could educate low-income and minority consumers about mortgage lending, credit and home ownership, according to the report. The center also could handle housing complaints, the report said.

Raleigh residents who believe they have been discriminated against in housing have to file a complaint with the state Human Relations Commission.

"Without a local presence and efforts of a local fair housing agency, it is more difficult to raise awareness of the law and the rights granted under the law," the report said. "The lack of a central location for filing complaints and obtaining information about fair housing may constitute a barrier to fair housing."

The City Council scheduled a public hearing next month to review the report.