Sandra Bullock’s Golden Globe best actress role in “The Blind Side” involved a homeless youngster in the City of Memphis, Tennessee who came from the wrong side of the tracks. The youngster’s life was changed by a family which chose to embrace a high school student who ultimately became an All-American football player at Ole Miss and who is now with the Baltimore Ravens. The scenes of the City of Memphis are compelling. Recently, a fair housing lawsuit was filed by the City Fathers in Memphis against Wells Fargo in which it is contended that the Bank’s “unlawful, irresponsible, unfair, deceptive and discriminatory” mortgage policies and practices during the early part of this past decade has led to a City crippled by foreclosures. More than 23,000 foreclosures throughout Memphis have dropped property values. According to the City Fathers, these foreclosures have eroded a tax base which supports the City and County services.
Fair Housing Remains a Significant Issue
Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies recently published a forty page report entitled “The State of the Nation’s Housing 2009.” The report targets lenders and particularly those which engaged in offering “high cost” sub-prime loans. The report notes that “loans in foreclosure are heavily concentrated in low income minority neighborhoods.” The report is able to differentiate between low income communities which are white, versus those which are occupied by minorities. HUD estimates that the median share of high cost loans in the minority communities was early one-half while the median share in low income white neighborhoods was one-third. Similarly, statistics show that minority neighborhoods are the subject of a much higher foreclosure rate than the white neighborhoods reflecting comparable income levels.
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