Inside the White House’s plan to make home appraisals more equitable
Vice President Harris today will announce a strategy to address undervalued property valuations for families and communities of color.
We’re halfway through the Senate hearings to confirm Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
And, to be honest, they’re going as I expected them to.
Jackson is as poised, patient and perceptive as she was on day one while Senate Republicans rolled out one dog-whistle after another — critical race theory, court-packing and child porn were among the top hits — during a 13-hour marathon.
And while the White House would love for Jackson to receive support from both parties, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham looks unlikely to vote for her as he, along with two other Republicans, did during her confirmation last year. But Democrats have enough votes to render their opposition moot.
So I thought I’d switch gears this morning and report an announcement coming later today from Vice President Kamala Harris on the Biden administration’s plan to address undervalued appraisals for families and communities of color.
“It’s extremely important for Black homeowners to receive fair appraisals because for years we were not allowed to own property,” Kenneth Kyrell, an Atlanta-based realtor. “And although that is not the case anymore, there are often times when the hard work and sacrifice that Black homeowners make to create, maintain, and grow generational wealth becomes diminished based on someone’s ignorant racial bias.”
A senior administration official told reporters during a press call on Tuesday that homeownership is the primary contributor to wealth-building and housing stability for Black and brown households.
“But bias in home valuations limits the ability of Black and brown families to enjoy the financial returns associated with homeownership, thereby contributing to the already sprawling racial wealth gap,” the official said.
The action plan Harris will unveil with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and White House Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice features a set of commitments and actions, most of which administration officials said can be taken using existing federal authorities, that will help every American to have a chance to build generational wealth through homeownership.
The median white family holds eight times the wealth of the typical Black family and five times the wealth of the typical Latino family.
And while spending power — the ability to buy, save and invest — reached a record $1.6 trillion for Black people in 2021, the net worth for this community has dropped 14 percent since 2001. (Latino net worth surged 112 percent during the same period and white net worth increased six percent.)
If the racial disparities in the amount of wealth families gain from owning a home were eliminated, the wealth gap would narrow an additional 16 percent between Black and white households and by an additional 41 percent between Latino and white households.
But home appraisals — intended to provide independent, fair and objective estimates of the market value of properties — have been weaponized to sustain the status quo to the detriment of families of color.
Black homeowners have reported receiving higher appraisals after swapping in white family photos and having white families represent them during the evaluations. (Kyrell said he suggests clients de-personalize their homes, including personal photos, religious motifs or political details, prior to their appraisals.)
Appraisals for home purchases in majority-Black and majority-Latino neighborhoods were roughly twice as likely to result in a value below the actual contract price, according to a study. Another study found that white-owned homes are much more likely than Black-owned homes to be appraised at values that exceed algorithmic predictions.
Oversight and accountability will be a huge focus of the actions Vice President Harris will speak about. The White House says the appraisal industry has long operated in a relatively closed and self-regulated framework and has not been effective at addressing deep-rooted inequities.
The action plan will also concentrate on establishing standards for automated valuation models — “AVMs” — so they’re independent of data that could replicate past discrimination.
97 percent of the appraiser profession is white, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In response, the administration has committed to removing unnecessary educational and experience requirements that make it difficult for underrepresented groups to access the profession and protecting existing appraisers from bias.
The plan is the work of the Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity task force, an interagency unit President Joe Biden announced last June on the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre to develop a transformative set of actions to root out racial and ethnic bias in home valuations.
“Affirmatively advancing equity, civil rights, racial justice, and equal opportunity is the responsibility of the whole of our government,” Biden wrote in the executive order establishing the task force. “Because advancing equity requires a systematic approach to embedding fairness in decision-making processes, executive departments and agencies must recognize and work to redress inequities in their policies and programs that serve as barriers to equal opportunity.”
But people of color face disparities before they ever reach the ownership stage.
Attorney General Merrick Garland last October announced an initiative to eliminate redlining, an illegal practice that dates back to the 1930s in which lenders avoid providing services to individuals living in communities of color because of the race or national origin of the people who live in those communities.
If successful, as I reported then, the initiative would make mortgage credit and homeownership accessible for people of color and ensure they have equal access to lending opportunities.
A Justice Department spokesperson said the initiative is ongoing when asked for an update.
As the task force transitions to the next phase of its work, the White House said it will partner with financial institutions, philanthropy groups, academia, civil rights groups, advocates, and industry associations to create a coordinated approach on the issue.
In the meantime, Kyrell advises getting home appraisals (and inspections) by an appraiser of your choice — even if the buyer or seller has someone in place.
“It’s important to always get a second opinion to make sure there is alignment and to address any value discrepancies.”
He said it’s also important to seek an appraisal from a professional who is familiar with the geography of the property.
“There are many things that make go into a property being appraised at the right value that include more than just the property itself,” he said. “Ask questions and make sure you as the homeowner feel comfortable with the experience, education, and familiarity of location of the person or company conducting your appraisal.”
Contact HUD's Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to learn more about your fair housing rights during the homebuying or refinancing process or to file a fair housing complaint. You can also stay informed on how the federal government and its industry partners are combatting appraisal bias.
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Today in Politics
President Biden this morning will travel to Brussels, Belgium, where he will be greeted by Prime Minister Alexander De Croo of Belgium.
The rest of Biden’s European schedule:
Thursday: The president will take a family photo with other leaders at NATO headquarters and speak on the crisis in Ukraine. He will also speak at the leaders’ meeting with the leaders of Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, and Canada. Biden will meet with European Council President Charles Michel and speak at a European Council Summit as well. He’ll hold a press conference too.
Friday: Biden will travel to Warsaw, Poland.
Saturday: The president will meet with President Andrzej Duda of Poland to discuss the humanitarian and human rights crisis in Ukraine and speak on democracy before returning to Washington, DC.
Vice President Harris this morning will speak on addressing bias in home valuations. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge and Domestic Policy Advisor Susan Rice will also speak.
The House is out.
The Senate is in and will continue debate on a bill to increase US competitiveness with China.
In the Know
Dmitry Peskov, the chief spokesperson for President Vladimir Putin of Russia repeatedly refused to rule out if the country would use nuclear weapons. Peskov also conceded that Russia has yet to achieve any of its military goals in Ukraine. (Luke McGee and Claire Calzonetti / CNN)
Related: The US and NATO believe that Belarus, a country in Eastern Europe, could soon join Russia in its war against Ukraine. Belarusian combat units are reportedly ready to go into Ukraine as soon as in the next few days, with thousands of forces prepared to deploy. (Natasha Bertrand, Vasco Cotovio, Jennifer Hansler and Jim Sciutto / CNN)
White House Press Secretary tested positive for COVID-19. It’s the second time she’s been infected and both times were before she was scheduled to travel to Europe with President Biden, who tested negative on Tuesday. Psaki is experiencing mild symptoms and will work from home until she completes a five-day isolation period and tests negative.
Related: Hillary Clinton announced she has tested positive for COVID-19. Bill tested negative and is feeling fine,” Clinton, who is experiencing mild symptoms, said of the former president. “He’s quarantining until our household is fully in the clear. Movie recommendations appreciated!” (@HillaryClinton / Twitter)
The White House said it lacks the funds to make sure a fourth vaccine dose is free in the event an additional boost is recommended by public health officials. Administration officials would prefer to order the additional doses ahead of time instead of waiting until another wave overwhelms our health care system. (Dan Diamond, Rachel Roubein and Yasmeen Abutaleb / WaPo)
The Senate Commerce Committee passed a bill sponsored by Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth of Illinois and Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio to help families keep in touch with their incarcerated family members. The legislation affirms the Federal Communications Commission is authorized to regulate intrastate phone rates and charges in correctional facilities to ensure they are just and reasonable.
The Defense Department announced a new committee to address and prevent suicide in the military. It will review relevant suicide prevention and response activities and synchronize its recommendations with those of a separate commission on sexual assault in the military.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced a $3 billion investment to help communities recover from disasters. The funds are meant to build resilience to natural disasters, including climate disasters, with a specific focus on low- and moderate-income populations.
Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine’s office filed a lawsuit against Grubhub for misleading customers about its prices and falsely claiming that deliveries via Grubhub+ were free when they still contained a service charge. Grubhub said it would update its messaging to include a disclosure during checkout that prices may be lower in-store and make it more clear that customers can place free orders online, but that this only applies if you’re picking up the food. (Amanda Silberling / TechCrunch)
Apple Podcasts is rolling out new features to incentivize podcasters to offer paid subscriptions to listeners on the app. Apple collects a 30 percent commission on paid subscriptions in the first year and 15 percent in year two. (Amanda Silberling / TechCrunch)
Instagram expanded its product tagging feature, previously reserved for digital creators, to all US users. The company says the expansion will make it easier for people to discover products from people they follow and for businesses to grow their audience on the app. (Amanda Silberling / TechCrunch)
Read All About It
Aja Romano on forgiveness:
In other words, everyone wants forgiveness, but no one is being forgiven, and no one knows how to negotiate forgiveness at a cultural level. In an era of polarized politics, “cancel culture,” and the tendency of social media users to conduct informal modern tribunals without a lot of due process, seeking and granting public forgiveness is increasingly complicated.
The questions involved get harder by the day: What use is a good apology if people are unwilling to hear it? Whose forgiveness matters most? And what’s the point of agreeing on answers to any of the other questions if all we really want is to hang onto our anger, scoring points online rather than moving on?
Bound up in the hand-wringing over cancel culture is the idea that lurking on the internet is a potential vigilante justice mob, out to insist that a score must be settled and retribution must be taken. In this messy context, on such a public stage, there’s little room for humanization between offense and vengeance.
Alex Samuels on how white victimhood fuels Republican politics:
Trump is not the first white person to feel like a victim of discrimination or to make claims in that spirit. This phenomenon started long before him. But in the U.S., if we look at things like the racial wealth gap, mortgage denial rates, COVID-19 vaccination and illness rates, police violence rates or myriad other data sets, we quickly see plenty of systemic biases against Black Americans and other minority groups (such as increasing hate crimes against Asian Americans). You can’t, however, find such widespread evidence for anti-white discrimination. So why have many white Americans started to see themselves as the victims of racial discrimination?
Abha Bhattarai on how rising prices are squeezing older Americans:
The burden on older Americans is the latest example of how inflation — at 40-year highs — is exacerbating inequalities across the economy. Higher prices on food, gas and housing are weighing heavily on those who can least afford it and creating new challenges for a population that is also most vulnerable to covid. Adding to the strain, millions of older Americans have given up regular incomes to retire during the coronavirus pandemic.
Half of older people who live alone are struggling to get by on less than $27,000 a year — or the bare minimum for a single renter in good health to cover expenses, according to the Elder Index, a cost-of-living measure created by the Gerontology Institute at the University of Massachusetts Boston. The steady climb of inflation during the pandemic has put further stress on retirees.
“Any small change in circumstance — rising prices, a medical emergency — can throw an older person’s budget completely out of whack,” Jan Mutchler, the institute’s director, said.
Eliza Brooke on nannies:
By squishing professional life and family life into the same space, the pandemic provided many examples of the ways in which nannies enable women to raise children while pursuing high-powered careers. Too often, nannies’ significant labor gets swept into the background. When COVID-19 disrupted the daily routines of work and child care, it highlighted the crucial role nannies play in the flow of many parents’ daily lives.
MaryLou Costa on how gay dads are raising the bar for paternity leave:
Caldas is one of a new generation of gay dads and dads to be seeking to rewrite the gendered narrative around parental leave, which sees same-sex male parents receive on average 22 fewer weeks of paid leave than heterosexual couples.
Meanwhile, comments like “paternity leave is for losers”, as Silicon Valley CEO and investor Joe Lonsdale infamously said last year, reflect entrenched social and corporate attitudes that Caldas is keen to see gone. Paternity leave uptake overall in the U.K. last year dropped to a 10-year low with just a quarter of new dads taking it, while in the U.S., just 5% of new dads take at least two weeks of leave. That’s despite experts and statistics concurring that disparities in parental leave is one of the fundamental sources of the gender pay gap.
Shirley Li on the comedies that understand what peak scammer TV does not:
As it turns out, two new half-hour comedies are proving themselves observant where the prestige dramas are not. HBO Max’s Minx, about the founding of a Playgirl-like porn magazine for women, and ABC’s Abbott Elementary, about the staff at an underfunded public school in Philadelphia, depict the trials of being a woman who’s driven, idealistic, and empowered. But these shows also maintain a warmth and sincerity that are missing from the sensational retellings of major scandals. Both emphasize the satisfaction that can come with cooperation and negotiation, not just the thrill of winning over a room of naysayers. Both consider the sexism and misogyny that can sway a woman’s principles, without turning such challenges into the only obstacles their leads face. The two series offer reminders that female leadership isn’t just about having enough conviction to win over skeptics; it’s also about women confronting where their distrust comes from while looking out for one another and for solutions that lead to meaningful change.
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