Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Everything old is new again

Posted By on 06.24.09 at 11:46 AM

In 2007, nearly 25 percent of Wells Fargo’s highest-earning 259 black borrowers in the Baltimore metropolitan area, who all reported earnings of $120,000 or more, received high-cost mortgages from the lender. About 15 percent of Wells Fargo’s 259 lowest-earning white borrowers in metropolitan Baltimore, who all reported earnings of less than $40,000, got subprime loans from the lender.

Must-read report at the Chicago Reporter, with Excel files. Wells Fargo's exploitative lending practices have wreacked havoc, and not just here; Baltimore officials have filed suit against the company, as the NYT detailed a couple weeks back. Alden Loury asks: why not us?

I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage you to read Beryl Satter's Family Properties, a jawdropping and infuriating work of history about how unfair slumlord lending practices devastated Lawndale during the mid-20th century. It's an amazing book, almost guaranteed to be the best I read all year, and, if you're skeptical, it's not as dry as it might sound; Satter's father was a prominent landlord and lawyer in the neighborhood, so it's as much a family history (hence the title) as a civic history, and certainly resonant given what we know about lending during the housing bubble.

Deanna Isaacs reviewed the book for the Reader, and Andrew Patner talked with Satter on his WFMT show Critical Thinking (here, scroll down to April 27).

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