Banks Might Like White Men Just as Much as the GOP Does
Are you STILL capable of being surprised by structural inequality, including but not limited to women and minorities' inability to take advantage of various financial opportunities? Eh, us neither, we are used to it by now, but just in case we accidentally become inoculated, let us learn about the current instantiation of redlining in Chicago.
A new fact sheet from the Woodstock Institute reports that women are having a harder time getting home loans than men, and that the picture is even worse for women of color. The institute looked at people living in the Chicago area and found that joint home purchase mortgage applications headed by women were 24 percent less likely to actually get a loan than male counterparts. For African American women, that number jumps to 34 percent. Worse, women are far less likely to be able to refinance their current mortgages. Female-headed joint refinance applications were 39 percent less likely to succeed, and that number is 44 percent for African-American women.
Now, we will offer the following caveat: the Woodstock Institute fact sheet refers repeatedly to the fact that women and minorities face a disparity in loan "origination," but the fact sheet does not say what "origination" means.
This is a trifling but important detail -- when your Wonkette worked in loans, a loan "originator" was basically a glorified cold-caller, phoning hundreds of people per day to see if they a) had a home and b) had any equity in that home, or c) had any interest in buying a home and needed financing. Once it was ascertained that the person owned a home or wanted to buy one, the "originator" would make a note of the information and pass it to a loan officer so the loan officer could get the person to hopefully fill out an application in full, and consent to have his or her credit run.
So saying that there is a disparity between men and women's rate of loan origination could mean that here are less women on the cold-call sheets, or it could mean that women are less likely to talk to someone who is cold-calling about the possibility of refinancing or purchasing a home.
The other thing we will add is that is that loan officers, generally speaking, are shitbags. We once watched a colleague try to sell an interest-only, floating-rate mortgage to a ninety year old man who did not speak English. We also watched another colleague explain to a potential borrower that Jesus had spoken to him the night before to make sure he understood the importance of getting this lady to refinance so she could remodel her guest bathroom.
We will also note that sub-prime lenders often sought out loan officers that had not gone to college, had bad credit scores, and were in lots of debt themselves. The managers would also work hard to convince the loan officers that they HAD to buy the latest-model BMW and really NEEDED to spend $1000 on bottle service at the latest club.
So while the picture is somewhat more complicated than one might be led to believe, and while we have questions about some of the terms used in this report, we are willing to concede that a) women and minorities still face tremendous institutional barriers to financial success and b) banks are able and willing to be cartoonishly evil, so there is probably something to this report.