(FinalCall.com) – At a time when one in five Black homeowners is projected to lose a residence due to foreclosure, Black realtors will try to help straighten out the U.S. mortgage mess when their trade association convenes for its 61st Annual Convention in Memphis.

“The passage of the new housing bill was supposed to help. A lot of people don’t qualify for the help. Many are now unemployed because of the country’s financial problems,” Maria Kong, National Association of Real Estate Brokers president and CEO told The Final Call.

She is referring to the American Housing Rescue and Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008 signed into law July 30. The Government Accountability Office projected the new law will assist 400,000 struggling homeowners nationwide. The new measure, however, is not expected to impact many who have failed to meet mortgage payments.


“Unfortunately, the legislative and regulatory measures will not come soon enough to help the more than two million American home-owners who, over the past year and a half, have lost their homes to foreclosure,” said Ms. Kong.

“Nor, will the measures readily restore economic well-being to thousands of minority real estate professionals whose livelihoods fell victim to this housing tsunami,” she said. “Good credit people are now facing foreclosures. Universities are not getting the student loans they used to get. Professors are being laid off. All the universities are laying off. Cities are also cutting services with reduction on police, teachers and other civil servants,” she said, citing a litany of negatives associated with the housing market’s crash.

The Aug. 8-11 conference will initiate a “Call to Action” to organize civil rights organizations to promote a public dialogue on the dire circumstances experienced by the Black homeowners facing foreclosure.

“Our mission is clear.First, the preservation of dwindling wealth by helping Black homeowners now struggling to pay subprime and predatory mortgage loans keep their homes. Second, the restoration of our communities by helping prospective homeowners find affordable homes and sustainable mortgages.And third, work in collaboration with other organizations to protect our communities from ever again experiencing the debilitating effects of discriminatory lending practices,” Ms. Kong added.

Marcia Griffin runs Home Free USA. The group was initially started to help Blacks purchase a home, now its major focus is helping Blacks keep their homes.

“The problem is so severe and many people don’t do anything until it’s too late. We are here to help and can help people all across the country. We speak the language that mortgage companies understand. We can negotiate on behalf of homeowners and sometimes get their mortgage (re)structured,” she told The Final Call.

A new report by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition shows non-White consumers, regardless of income level, were most at risk of receiving high-cost home mortgage loans.

The study, “Income Is No Shield Against Racial Differences in Lending II,” examined subprime and near prime loans from more than 219 metropolitan areas, as reported under the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data from 2006, the most recent publicly available data.

“The data reminds us that the current housing crisis was overwhelmingly the result of the explosion of bad loan products in financially vulnerable communities. It is not surprising that foreclosures have been concentrated among African Americans and Latinos, because predatory and problematic loans are most prevalent in those communities,” said John Taylor, National Community Reinvestment Coalition president and CEO.

According to the report, minorities are paying more for mortgages, even as their income levels increase. Loan price disparities, when compared to White counterparts, were more common for middle to upper-income Black and Hispanic borrowers than pricing disparities were for low- and moderate-income minority borrowers. Lending disparities for Blacks and Hispanics also increased significantly as income levels increased.

Ms. Kong does not see the situation getting better anytime soon. “Not only are these loans crippling African Americans and other targeted minority homeowners, but they also are primarily responsible for long-term destabilization of once desirable urban neighborhoods,” she said.

At the conference a study by Howard University on the State of Housing in Black America will be released. “Blacks will experience a loss of wealth in equity in their homes of about $164-$200 billion. This is really a mess. We have to unify to craft what we need to help our people move forward in homeownership,” said Ms. Kong.