An 11-member task force examining racial disparities in home ownership in Oregon has their third meeting on November 28 taking a look at mortgage loans and barriers. The task force was created by legislation during the 2018 session with the goal of trying to figure out how to improve home ownership rates, especially for Oregonians of color.

Allan Lazo, Executive Director of the Fair Housing Council of Oregon, told committee members the percentage of Black homeownership has remained stagnant since the passage of the Fair Housing Act 50 years ago. Whereas 65 percent of white people and 63 percent of Asian Americans own homes as of 2017, only 35 percent of African Americans, 37 percent of Latino, and 26 percent of Pacific Islanders own their homes.

At their October meeting lending was discussed as a significant challenge. Despite existing programs to help people borrow a home, many potential buyers are not aware of the extra help they can get to become eligible for assistance towards closing a home purchase.

Joseph Portillo, a home loan officer at Umpqua Bank, testified expanding educational programs about accessing credit and other qualifiers for home loans could boost home ownership rates among people of color.

Others reminded the committee to consider how the impact of Oregon’s history of discrimination has compounded the significant disadvantages for people of color. Many families were unable to build wealth through property ownership over the course of generations in the way white people could.

“I would strongly caution too much focus on the consumer education piece and focus on the systemic pieces of how we got here,” said Se-Ah-Dom Edmo, a committee member and Sovereignty Program Director at the Western States Center.

“Homeownership is a huge opportunity for a family to build intergenerational wealth,” said co-chair Rep. Mark Meek, a Democrat from Clackamas County. “It is alarming and disturbing to see the inequity and imbalance of home ownership for Oregonians of color.”

The committee has been charged with examining the following topics and developing a final report by September 15, 2019:

  • Compile data concerning levels of homeownership among people of color in Oregon;
  • Identify barriers to homeownership that people of color in Oregon face;
  • Investigate practices and procedures for approving mortgage loans;
  • Identify discriminatory mortgage loan application and approval practices and procedures that deliberately or inadvertently discriminate against people of color;
  • Identify barriers other than access to mortgage loans or other credit that reduce or prevent home ownership among people of color;
  • Recommend solutions, including legislation, to eliminate any impermissible discrimination or barriers to homeownership and to improve other conditions that reduce or prevent home ownership among people of color in Oregon.

While there are no documents posted yet, you can track the committee at: