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USC Lusk Center Study of Minority Homeownership Probes Racial Disparities

October 16, 2001

LOS ANGELES (Business Wire) -- A study by the University of Southern California’s Lusk Center for Real Estate, published in the October 2001 issue of Mortgage Banking magazine, provides new insight into differences in homeownership rates among blacks, Latinos, Asians and whites in Los Angeles County. A troubling finding is that if the education and income of whites and blacks were equal, there would still be a gap – largely unexplained -- in the homeownership rates of each group in Los Angeles County.

“One possibility is that blacks may feel they are limited in their housing choices, given the relatively limited number of predominantly black or integrated neighborhoods in Los Angeles County,” said Stuart Gabriel, Ph.D., director of the Lusk Center and an author of the study. “With fewer housing choices, blacks may be more inclined to rent than to buy. It is also likely that the decline in black homeownership in Los Angeles County was partly offset by increases in black homeownership in surrounding counties, reflecting the selective movement of younger black households to outlying areas.” Gabriel added.

The study found that if Latinos had the same level of education and income as whites and Asians, they would have about the same rate of home ownership. “Our findings strongly suggest that by focusing on the educational needs and employment status of Latino and immigrant groups, public policy could drive significant gains in home ownership,” Gabriel said. “These groups are participating in the mainstream economy and have strong upward mobility.”

According to the researchers, the difference in homeownership rates of blacks and whites in Los Angeles County increased during the period of the study even though the percentage of blacks in the population declined. “Discrimination in access to homeownership may well have held down black homeownership, but it is not likely that discrimination increased during the study period,” Gabriel observed.

Gabriel said he and his associates are continuing their research to try to determine the precise reasons for the differences in white and black homeownership rates.

The study was sponsored by the Research Institute for Housing America, an independent research organization founded by the Mortgage Bankers Association of America.

Contact: Francie Murphy