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The mortgage drought 

Despite the economic recovery, African Americans and Latinos continue to lack equal access to homeownership in Rochester and Monroe County, says a new report from the Empire Justice Center, "The River Runs Dry II: The Persistent Mortgage Drought in Rochester's Communities of Color."

An analysis of local lending practices from 2010 through 2013 showed that the number of home loans issued in Rochester and Monroe County recovered from their lowest point in 2011.

However, while the share of loans received by white borrowers consistently increased, the share received by African-American borrowers steadily declined. And the share of loans received by Latinos and Asians remained unchanged.

In 2013, African Americans received only 3.2 percent of the home loans issued in Rochester and Monroe County, less than in 2010 or 2011. Middle-income African-American applicants were, on average, denied home loans 2.5 times more often than middle-income white applicants, the report says, while upper-income African Americans were denied twice as often.

Denial rates for neighborhoods of color also increased, says Barbara Van Kerkhove, the main author of the Empire Justice report. She recommends more vigorous enforcement of federal fair housing laws, which prohibit lender practices such as redlining neighborhoods.

She also recommends the development of alternative credit-scoring models, as well as increased anti-racism training requirements for the lending and real estate professions.

The report notes that discriminatory policies, including some of the same housing and lending policies that exist in Rochester, existed in Ferguson and Baltimore for years before violence broke out.

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