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Financial Apartheid and the Subprime Crisis

CLEVELAND, Ohio (AFP) — They had small means and big hopes of owning a house. But African-Americans snared in the US mortgage crisis have seen the American dream turn into a nightmare many call “financial apartheid.”

The storm triggered by risky “subprime” loans has left many in ruins, forced out of their modest homes and furious at falling victim to financial dealings that have taken a particular toll on minority families.

“People of color are more than three times more likely to have subprime loans,” concluded the organization United for a Fair Economy in a recent report which estimated that minorities have seen between 163 billion and 278 billion dollars of their equity go up in smoke since 2000.

With its weakened economy and a large black population more used to renting, Cleveland has become a poster child of the subprime crisis in a country where some 2.1 million borrowers are behind on their mortgage payments.

City officials estimate that foreclosures have swallowed some 70,000 homes and turned entire neighborhoods into ghost towns.

The city has responded by suing lenders, accusing them of targeting black borrowers and steering them to the loans granted with few formalities and at hefty interest rates to people with poor credit histories. Continue reading

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