The Task Force on Addressing Racial Disparities in Home Ownership has been finalizing policy recommendations this fall with the goal of developing legislation to modify practices or procedures for mortgage loan applications and approvals to eliminate impermissible discrimination or barriers to homeownership among people of color in Oregon.

13 Phase I preliminary recommendations address funding culturally specific organizations to increase visibility and access to homeownership programs such as financial literacy courses, homebuyer assistance and counseling programs. Recommendations call for increasing funding for down payment assistance and IDAs to support homeownership by people of color and offering state private mortgage insurance with lower rates than currently available private mortgage insurance.

Another recommendation would require training for mortgage and real estate professionals to cover homebuyer assistance programs and incorporate racial bias training. Others would convene work groups to explore ways to improve language accessibility related to homeownership as well as work with Oregon’s nine federally recognized Tribes to address efforts to increase homeownership rates for tribal members.

The Task Force’s problem statement correctly calls out, “Oregon’s communities of color do not have equal, fair, or equitable access to homeownership. A comprehensive review of public, private, and NGO data sources show that communities of color own homes at lower rates than their white counterparts. These disparities are the result of historical and current discriminatory housing policies and practices, disparate access to credit, generational poverty, and racial biases, which are exacerbated by present-day barriers that disproportionately impact Oregon’s communities of color.”

Additional policy options needing further study are included in long-term Phase Two recommendations. The hope is to extend the Task Force through September 2020 to continue developing recommended solutions.