Resilience of New York City Black Homeowners



When 47-year-old Kenyatt Reed, who works for the Department of Education, and Crystal Granderson-Reed, 48, a writer, got married, they knew they wanted to buy Mr. Reed’s family home in the historic Lefferts estate district of Brooklyn. But their window was closing.

Some of Mr. Reed’s family members were eager to sell and move south, but the couple took longer to qualify for the mortgage. The relatives came to a compromise, allowing the couple to rent the house for four years, while improving credit and savings – a luxury many do not get. In 2003, they bought a home for less than $ 300,000; today it costs about $ 2.2 million.

“We would never sell it,” said Mr. Reed, who dreamed of buying the house that his grandparents, one of the first black families to own in the neighborhood, acquired in the 1950s.

Mr. Reed comes from a homeowner’s history dating back to black oysters at Sandy Ground on Staten Island, one of the oldest free black settlements in the country, founded before the Civil War.

Ms. Granderson-Reed’s experience was more conventional: her mother sold the family estate, a large house on a hill in White Plains, New York, for a below market price to share the proceeds with family members, and she grew up renting. “The cycle has ended,” she said.

Many families are forced to sell because financial constraints prevent one family member from buying out others. From July 2019 to June 2020, 10 percent of black applicants in the United States were denied mortgages, 2.5 times the number of white applicants. according to the report of the National Association of Realtors, a large trading group.

Black borrowers also incur the highest financing fees – nearly $ 14,000, compared with $ 6,000 for white borrowers who paid the lowest fees on average, according to the NYC Border Center.


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