The map above shows the racial and ethnic breakdown of mortgage loans issued across the city in 2001. Things have changed since then, as tighter mortgage lending during and following the recession constrained the loans available to minority borrowers. According to an Urban Institute report out today, the percentage of home loans made to black and Hispanic households nationwide dropped from 23 percent in 2005 to 12 percent in 2012.
In the D.C. metropolitan area, according to Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data, the number of black households receiving mortgages peaked at 91,582 in 2005, when they comprised 21 percent of all borrowers. (These figures underestimate the number of borrowers in each racial or ethnic group slightly, given that race and ethnicity were not reported in every transaction.) By 2012, that number was down to 27,473, or just 10 percent of the total. Hispanic borrowing likewise peaked in 2005 at 59,841, or 14 percent; in 2012, it was at 12,355, or 5 percent. Meanwhile, white borrowing, which had peaked in 2003, increased from 40 percent of total borrowing in 2005 to 57 percent in 2012.
Just as interesting as these racial shifts, however, is their geography. Take a look at how the racial composition of D.C. mortgages has changed over the past decade. Pay attention to Capitol Hill’s evolution from a diverse mix of homebuyers to a nearly all-white set, and the sections of Ward 4 around Petworth that experienced a black- and Hispanic-led boom in the mid-200os before yielding somewhat to the white wave that overtook the central portion of the city.
“A return to 2005 and 2006 lending practices would be ill-fated, but the pendulum has unquestionably swung too far,” the Urban Institute concludes. “Today’s tight standards have locked out many prospective borrowers from homeownership, disproportionately preventing African American and Hispanic families from building wealth and benefiting from the recovery.” And yet even if the pendulum does swing back a bit, it’s unlikely that increasingly expensive sections of the city that were once home to multicolored bursts on these maps will cease to be bastions of blue dots anytime soon.
Maps from the Urban Institute report; chart made using Chartbuilder