Fair Housing In Philadelphia

State Senator Vincent Hughes will join State Senator Art Haywood activists, advocates, and community organizations for a roundtable discussion on the Fair Housing Act of 1968 on at 10 a.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12. The discussion will include issues on the topic from 1968 to now and how the Fair Housing Act has affected the nation. There will also be discussion on how the Fair Housing Act has worked with current laws and calls to action to further ensure housing security in the Commonwealth.

The Fair Housing Act is a federal edict that protects the buyer or renter from being discriminated against if they are a protected class (race, religion, national origin, age, sex/gender, citizenship, familial status, disability status). Initially the legislation was needed because of the heavy influx of African Americans and other minorities to urban areas, which sparked explicit segregation of neighborhoods based on race and ethnicity.

Though the act initially protected other minorities who had been denied housing because of redlining, protections have since been extended to include disability and family statuses in the 1988 Fair Housing Amendments Act.

The Fair Housing act also protects people from being coerced, threatened, intimidated or interfered with while trying to enjoy individual rights to fair housing. This milestone act has forced landlords and sellers to comply with federal guidelines, but an issue in the subsequent 50 years has been enforcement.

Look at Philadelphia as an example:

Recent award-winning investigative reporting from Reveal found that Philadelphia had the highest rate of discrimination against African American homebuyers among the nation’s major cities. Other cities also showed high levels of discrimination against black and Hispanic mortgage seekers, indicating that there is still work to be done.

In an attempt to continue this work and protect Philadelphians and Pennsylvanians alike, Senator Hughes is working with Senator Art Haywood to address fair housing issues as they continue to persist in urban communities.

Here is a list of partners at our first event:

On the issue of redlining, which is explicitly prohibited by the Fair Housing Act, Sen. Hughes has led the charge and called for investigations into these malfeasant practices, requesting Attorney General Josh Shapiro investigate modern day redlining in Philadelphia. U.S. Senator Bob Casey joined Sen. Hughes in requesting the U.S. Department of Justice investigate the matter. You also met with Treasurer Joe Torsella to look into the banking practices.

  • Even controlling for applicants’ income, loan amount, neighborhood, and other factors, blacks were 2.7 times more likely than whites to be denied a conventional mortgage in Philadelphia.
    • Wells Fargo Bank denied 27 percent of conventional home purchase applications from African-Americans, compared to denying 9 percent from white applicants.
    • Santander Bank denied 37 percent of African-American applicants and only 13 percent of white applicants.
    • PNC Financial Services denied 44 percent of African-American applicants and just 15 percent of white applicants.
  • The latest figures from the U.S. Census Bureau show the median net worth for an African American family is $9,000, compared with $132,000 for a white family. Latino families did not fare much better at $12,000. That is due to a historic lack of homeownership for those minority groups, leaving no wealth to pass on to future generations.
  • When you combine home purchase loans, refinancing and home equity lines of credit, banks were more likely to deny a conventional loan application than grant it in more than 40 percent of Philadelphia. People of color were the majority in nearly all those neighborhoods.