Cities With the Most Racist Mortgage Lending Practices

White Americans not only make up the majority of the population — 59% excluding non-Hispanic whites — but they also dominate wealth ownership compared to Black and Hispanic Americans.

The Federal Reserve found in 2019 that white families have the highest level of median and mean family wealth at $188,200 and $983,400, respectively, compared to $36,100 and $165,500 for Hispanic households and an even lower $24,100 and $142,500 for Black families.

This enormous disparity has much to do with property ownership, the most steadfast way to preserve and generate wealth for most people. Statistically speaking, it is much harder for many non-whites to get approved for a home mortgage, especially for Black Americans, who are more likely to be denied a home mortgage even in cities with large Black populations such as Memphis, Tennessee; Baltimore; Columbus, Ohio; and Birmingham, Alabama. (These are the worst cities for Black Americans.)

To identify the cities with the most racist mortgage lending practices, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed a July 2023 analysis by online lending market place LendingTree, “Black Homebuyers in 50 Largest US Metros 1.6 Times More Likely to Be Denied for Mortgage Than Overall Population.” Lending Tree reviewed the racial disparities in mortgage denial rates in the 50 largest metropolitan statistical areas, that is, the difference between the denial rate for the overall population and that for Black homebuyers.

Among these cities, the spread between mortgage denial rates for the overall population and Black applicants ranges from 0.26 points in Salt Lake City to more than 9 points in Buffalo, New York. 

The share of mortgage denials in Atlanta, where one in three residents is Black, is about 1 in 10. For Black applicants, however, the denial rate is nearly 14%, a disparity of nearly 4 points. (Also see, cities with the most Black-owned businesses.)

Twenty-four of these cities have Black populations above the national average of 13.6%, in some cases well above that average. Nearly 47% of residents in Memphis are Black, but nearly 16% of Black applicants are denied a mortgage compared to the overall average denial of nearly 10%.

Among the 10 most populous cities in America, Chicago, New York, and Phoenix, have a mortgage denial rate for Black borrowers that is above the average 5-point disparity for all 50 cities.

Here are the cities with the most racist mortgage lending practices.

Click here to read our detailed methodology.

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