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08Jan

Getting a Home Improvement Loan in Philly is Harder When You’re Low-Income or a Minority

The Inquirer 

Philadelphia is often called “The City of Neighborhoods,” an ode to its diverse housing stock and a high rate of home ownership.

More than 52 percent of homes in the city are owner-occupied, 2017 data from the U.S. Census Bureau show, and the city tends to outperform the national average when it comes to minority home ownership. Nearly two-thirds of Philadelphia homes, according to some estimates, are classified as rowhouses. And more than 80 percent of the city’s housing supply was built before 1970.

In other words, Philadelphia’s housing stock isn’t just historic — it’s critical to neighborhood stability and fabric.

One big problem, though: Keeping that housing up-to-snuff can be onerous. Especially if you are a low- or moderate-income homeowner.

According to a study (“Home Improvement Lending in the Third Federal Reserve District: Patterns by Income, Race, and Gender”) released in December by the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, homeowners from across the region who are low- to moderate-income, female, or a minority tend to have more trouble getting approved for home-improvement loans from traditional financial institutions, such as banks. The problem has been most severe, researchers found, in the Philadelphia metro division, where nearly 75 percent of low- or moderate-income homeowners who sought home improvement loans were denied between 2015 and 2017.

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