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Black homebuyers in Pennsylvania still face many hurdles, report finds

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA
A report finds Black homebuyers in Pennsylvania face hurdles to homeownership

A statewide report released Wednesday finds Black homebuyers still face substantial barriers to homeownership in Pennsylvania.

The report from the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency followed more than 200 clients who worked with the agency’s network of housing counselors.

The report finds:

  • People of color are more likely to be denied loans than white non-Hispanic people.
  • People seeking loans for homes in substantially minority areas are more likely to be denied than applicants in white areas.
  • Black non-Hispanic and Hispanic people are more likely to experience a denial than white non-Hispanic people of similar qualifications. “In fact, some comparisons show that less well qualified white non-Hispanic applicants fare better than well qualified Black non-Hispanic applicants,” the report noted.

Among the report’s recommendations: down-payment assistance programs should be expanded but shouldn’t be so cumbersome as to put the people using them at a disadvantage when trying to buy a home, and lenders need better training about communicating with applicants of color.

Start your morning with today's news on Pittsburgh and Pennsylvania.

The inquiry was commissioned after a 2018 investigation of home mortgage data by nonprofit news outlet Reveal that “found a pattern of troubling denials for people of color across the country." Among the places reporters highlighted where would-be-homebuyers faced barriers was Philadelphia.

Rates of homeownership among whites are roughly 30 percentage points above the Black and Hispanic rates in Pennsylvania, the report noted, contributing to a wide racial wealth gap.

Homeownership is a way for families to build wealth, and thus it is critical that access to it be fair.

“If part of our citizenry is being categorically discriminated against during the homebuying process, it not only denies them a safe roof over their heads, but it reduces their opportunity to raise themselves up financially,” said Robin Wiessman, executive director and CEO of PHFA.

Kate Giammarise focuses her reporting on poverty, social services and affordable housing. Before joining WESA, she covered those topics for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette for nearly five years; prior to that, she spent several years in the paper’s Harrisburg bureau covering the legislature, governor and state government. She can be reached at or 412-697-2953.