Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Is race a factor in Charlottesville area mortgage loan rates?

At first I thought it might be a Friday the Thirteenth hoax, but I and many other Charlottesville area residents were surptised to learn that "black residents in the Charlottesville region are nearly four times more likely than whites to have a high-cost subprime mortgage loan, the largest racial disparity in the nation." This story was reported in the Friday, July 13, 2007 Daily Progress by Brian McNeill. I haven't had the opportunity to read the report thoroughly, but clearly this is an issue that needs immediate attention by Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the other counties in our metropolitan area.

NAACP president, M. Rick Turner, presented a strong statement on the matter to city council at their July 16, 2007 meeting and encourage council to take action to eliminate all discrimination in mortgage lending within their power. If you have an opportunity to view a rebroadcast of the council meeting on Adelphia cable channel 10, I hope you will tune it in.

But, mortgage lending appears to me to be primarily in the hands of private companies and banks. City council and county board of supervisor members have little influence in the practices of these private companies. Here is clearly a moment for a public-private partnership to form with the goal of eliminating this discrimination.

I considered what I could do as a private citizen and concerned member of the Charlottesville community, and decided to contact our local Chamber of Commerce. I telephoned their Charlottesville office and recommended that the Chamber take an active role in working with their members to determine what the business community can do to address this troubling situation.

I look forward to seeing some action from everyone involved in the housing and local mortgage lending businesses to identify what the problems are in our community, and to work collectively toward eliminating any discriminatory practices. The time for action on this matter is now.

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