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Minorities' Home Ownership Booms Under Clinton but Still Lags Whites'

 
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Minorities' Home Ownership Booms Under Clinton but Still Lags Whites'
--MAY 31, 1999--

by Ronald Brownstein, Los Angeles Times

It’s one of the hidden success stories of the Clinton era. In the great housing boom of the 1990s, black and Latino homeownership has surged to the highest level ever recorded. The number of African Americans owning their own home is now increasing nearly three times as fast as the number of whites; the number of Latino homeowners is growing nearly five times as fast as that of whites.

These numbers are dramatic enough to deserve more detail. When President Clinton took office in 1993, 42% of African Americans and 39% of Latinos owned their own home. By this spring, those figures had jumped to 46.9% of blacks and 46.2% of Latinos.

That’s a lot of new picket fences. Since 1994, when the numbers really took off, the number of black and Latino homeowners has increased by 2 million. In all, the minority homeownership rate is on track to increase more in the 1990s than in any decade this century except the 1940s, when minorities joined in the wartime surge out of the Depression.

This trend is good news on many fronts. Homeownership stabilizes neighborhoods and even families. Housing scholar William C. Apgar, now an assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, says that research shows homeowners are more likely than renters to participate in their community. The children of homeowners even tend to perform better in school. Most significantly, increased homeownership allows minority families, who have accumulated far less wealth than whites, to amass assets and transmit them to future generations.

What explains the surge? The answer starts with the economy. Historically low rates of minority unemployment have created a larger pool of qualified buyers. And the lowest interest rates in years have made homes more affordable for white and minority buyers alike.

But the economy isn’t the whole story. As HUD Secretary Andrew Cuomo says: “There have been points in the past when the economy has done well but minority homeownership has not increased proportionally.” Case in point: Despite generally good times in the 1980s, homeownership among blacks and Latinos actually declined slightly, while rising slightly among whites.

All of this suggests that Clinton’s efforts to increase minority access to loans and capital also have spurred this decade’s gains. Under Clinton, bank regulators have breathed the first real life into enforcement of the Community Reinvestment Act, a 20-year-old statute meant to combat “redlining” by requiring banks to serve their low-income communities. The administration also has sent a clear message by stiffening enforcement of the fair housing and fair lending laws. The bottom line: Between 1993 and 1997, home loans grew by 72% to blacks and by 45% to Latinos, far faster than the total growth rate.

Lenders also have opened the door wider to minorities because of new initiatives at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–the giant federally chartered corporations that play critical, if obscure, roles in the home finance system. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac buy mortgages from lenders and bundle them into securities; that provides lenders the funds to lend more.

In 1992, Congress mandated that Fannie and Freddie increase their purchases of mortgages for low-income and medium-income borrowers. Operating under that requirement, Fannie Mae, in particular, has been aggressive and creative in stimulating minority gains. It has aimed extensive advertising campaigns at minorities that explain how to buy a home and opened three dozen local offices to encourage lenders to serve these markets. Most importantly, Fannie Mae has agreed to buy more loans with very low down payments–or with mortgage payments that represent an unusually high percentage of a buyer’s income. That’s made banks willing to lend to lower-income families they once might have rejected.

But for all that progress, the black and Latino homeownership rates, at about 46%, still significantly trail the white rate, which is nearing 73%. Much of that difference represents structural social disparities–in education levels, wealth and the percentage of single-parent families–that will only change slowly. Still, Apgar says, HUD’s analysis suggests there are enough qualified buyers to move the minority homeownership rate into the mid-50% range.

The market itself will probably produce some of that progress. For many builders and lenders, serving minority buyers is now less a social obligation than a business opportunity. Because blacks and Latinos, as groups, are younger than whites, many experts believe they will continue to lead the housing market for years.

But with discrimination in the banking system not yet eradicated, maintaining the momentum of the 1990s will also require a continuing nudge from Washington. One key is to defend the Community Reinvestment Act, which the Senate shortsightedly voted to retrench recently. Clinton has threatened a veto if the House concurs.

The top priority may be to ask more of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The two companies are now required to devote 42% of their portfolios to loans for low- and moderate-income borrowers; HUD, which has the authority to set the targets, is poised to propose an increase this summer. Although Fannie Mae actually has exceeded its target since 1994, it is resisting any hike. It argues that a higher target would only produce more loan defaults by pressuring banks to accept unsafe borrowers. HUD says Fannie Mae is resisting more low-income loans because they are less profitable.

Barry Zigas, who heads Fannie Mae’s low-income efforts, is undoubtedly correct when he argues, “There is obviously a limit beyond which [we] can’t push [the banks] to produce.” But with the housing market still sizzling, minority unemployment down and Fannie Mae enjoying record profits (over $3.4 billion last year), it doesn’t appear that the limit has been reached.

All signs point toward a high-velocity collision this summer between two strong-willed protagonists: HUD’s Cuomo and Fannie Mae CEO Franklin D. Raines, the first African American to hold the post. Better they reach a reasonable agreement that provides more fuel for the extraordinary boom transforming millions of minority families from renters into owners.
attxflag
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Re: Minorities' Home Ownership Booms Under Clinton but Still Lags Whites'
--PRESENT DAY--

How a Clinton-era Rewrite Made Subprime Crisis Inevitable
by Terry Jones, Investor's Business Daily

One of the most frequently asked questions about the subprime market meltdown and housing crisis is: How did the government get so deeply involved in the housing market?

The answer is: President Clinton wanted it that way.

Fannie Mae (FNM) and Freddie Mac, (FRE) even into the early 1990s, weren't the juggernauts they'd later be.

While President Carter in 1977 signed the Community Reinvestment Act, which pushed Fannie and Freddie to aggressively lend to minority communities, it was Clinton who supercharged the process. After entering office in 1993, he extensively rewrote Fannie's and Freddie's rules.

In so doing, he turned the two quasi-private, mortgage-funding firms into a semi-nationalized monopoly that dispensed cash to markets, made loans to large Democratic voting blocs and handed favors, jobs and money to political allies. This potent mix led inevitably to corruption and the Fannie-Freddie collapse.

Despite warnings of trouble at Fannie and Freddie, in 1994 Clinton unveiled his National Homeownership Strategy, which broadened the CRA in ways Congress never intended.

Addressing the National Association of Realtors that year, Clinton bluntly told the group that "more Americans should own their own homes." He meant it.

Clinton saw homeownership as a way to open the door for blacks and other minorities to enter the middle class.

Though well-intended, the problem was that Congress was about to change hands, from the Democrats to the Republicans. Rather than submit legislation that the GOP-led Congress was almost sure to reject, Clinton ordered Robert Rubin's Treasury Department to rewrite the rules in 1995.

The rewrite, as City Journal noted back in 2000, "made getting a satisfactory CRA rating harder." Banks were given strict new numerical quotas and measures for the level of "diversity" in their loan portfolios. Getting a good CRA rating was key for a bank that wanted to expand or merge with another.

Loans started being made on the basis of race, and often little else.

"Bank examiners would use federal home-loan data, broken down by neighborhood, income group and race, to rate banks on performance," wrote Howard Husock, a scholar at the Manhattan Institute.

But those rules weren't enough.

Clinton got the Department of Housing and Urban Development to double-team the issue. That would later prove disastrous.

Clinton's HUD secretary, Andrew Cuomo, "made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis," the liberal Village Voice noted. Among those decisions were changes that let Fannie and Freddie get into subprime loan markets in a big way.

Other rule changes gave Fannie and Freddie extraordinary leverage, allowing them to hold just 2.5% of capital to back their investments, vs. 10% for banks.

Since they could borrow at lower rates than banks due to implicit government guarantees for their debt, the government-sponsored enterprises boomed.

With incentives in place, banks poured billions of dollars of loans into poor communities, often "no doc" and "no income" loans that required no money down and no verification of income.

By 2007, Fannie and Freddie owned or guaranteed nearly half of the $12 trillion U.S. mortgage market — a staggering exposure.

Worse still was the cronyism.

Fannie and Freddie became home to out-of-work politicians, mostly Clinton Democrats. An informal survey of their top officials shows a roughly 2-to-1 dominance of Democrats over Republicans.

Then there were the campaign donations. From 1989 to 2008, some 384 politicians got their tip jars filled by Fannie and Freddie.

Over that time, the two GSEs spent $200 million on lobbying and political activities. Their charitable foundations dropped millions more on think tanks and radical community groups.

Did it work? Well, if measured by the goal of putting more poor people into homes, the answer would have to be yes.

From 1995 to 2005, a Harvard study shows, minorities made up 49% of the 12.5 million new homeowners.

The problem is that many of those loans have now gone bad, and minority homeownership rates are shrinking fast.

Fannie and Freddie, with their massive loan portfolios stuffed with securitized mortgage-backed paper created from subprime loans, are a failed legacy of the Clinton era.
attxflag
"Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."

[link to www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us]
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09/25/2008 03:59 PM
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Re: Minorities' Home Ownership Booms Under Clinton but Still Lags Whites'
Bad credit...No problem
Evil Twin

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09/25/2008 04:02 PM
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Re: Minorities' Home Ownership Booms Under Clinton but Still Lags Whites'
But, it's all George Bush's fault, dammit!!

lala
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09/25/2008 04:03 PM
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Re: Minorities' Home Ownership Booms Under Clinton but Still Lags Whites'
But, it's all George Bush's fault, dammit!!


 Quoting: Evil Twin

No its that damn moose herders fault
Apocalypse Troll (OP)
Trollicus Apocalyptus

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09/25/2008 04:07 PM

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Re: Minorities' Home Ownership Booms Under Clinton but Still Lags Whites'
I am doing an experiment - my credit is in the mid 700's and I am at 42% debt to equity in my place based on my bank's last appraisal. I just put in to refinance today at a lower rate (no closing costs, same bank)

We shall see what happens...
attxflag
"Honor the Texas flag; I pledge allegiance to thee, Texas, one state under God, one and indivisible."

[link to www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us]
Anonymous Coward
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09/25/2008 04:14 PM
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Re: Minorities' Home Ownership Booms Under Clinton but Still Lags Whites'
But, it's all George Bush's fault, dammit!!

lala
 Quoting: Evil Twin


If you guys were not so biased you would see that while the dems played the housing market the reps deregulated wallstreet. I say if you are fool enough to support either you should eat all their shit. Have a nice day.

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