Early last year, many Republicans were trying to put the blame for the housing crisis on Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts. That’s because Frank was a strong supporter of affordable housing for all, especially those people who at the time couldn’t afford to buy homes.

What happened? Banks came up with unique ways for those who couldn’t afford homes under their current plans to be able to afford them later on. Those floating interest rate loans came back to haunt both homeowners and banks when the real estate crash came. There was a lot of blame to go around, and even Frank stated later on that may be pushing for those who couldn’t qualify any other way to be able to own homes was overly ambitious.

Still, that doesn’t excuse banks and lenders for what they did. Last year I wrote on this blog that blacks and Hispanics were given predatory subprime loans at much higher interest rates, where 54.7% of black borrowers paid a higher interest rate than average, and 46.1% of Hispanics paid higher than norm.

Why is it racist? Because these lenders targeted residents of poor neighborhoods to offer them these outrageous loans specifically, and no one took the time to explain to them exactly what the risks were. This came from a study by the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. This was a total reverse of the normal practice of redlining, which all banks say they didn’t do but it was so obvious that it was laughable. A quote from the report is most striking: “From 1993 to 2000, the share of subprime mortgages going to households in minority neighborhoods rose from 2 to 18%.”

At least with redlining these lenders weren’t going to bring down an entire industry; not that anyone outside of banks and mortgage lenders support redlining. The point is that banks went to extremes as it regarded minority applicants. It was feast or famine, and the selling of a dream of home ownership to those who were most vulnerable was irresponsible without more education.

What can be done now? Pretty much nothing. Some states are getting relief from the federal government to help those people who are still in their homes but struggling while some former homeowners can “look forward” to heaping settlement “reimbursements” for losing their homes from banks like Wells Fargo averaging around $2,500 per household (Wells Fargo didn’t own the banks that did this to those folks; just felt a fair disclaimer was warranted); that won’t help much.

The best advice one can ever give is if something seems like it’s a miracle, check it out as much as you can, including asking someone you trust for advice. This is a major mess that’s going to take awhile to recover from.

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