Housing credit inflows are a substantial contributor to economic opportunity and vitality in a community. Due to historic inequities in housing policy and lending practices, mortgage capital can often be scarce in neighborhoods whose residents predominantly belong to racial and ethnic minority groups. Our research looks at the role of local programs with close-to-the-ground decision-making in promoting racial and neighborhood equity in homeownership opportunities.
This case study examines Florida’s State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) program, which provides state housing trust fund dollars to county and local governments to support homeownership and other affordable housing initiatives for low- and moderate-income households. Beyond income targeting, SHIP does not have explicit targeting or equity requirements for neighborhoods or racial and ethnic groups.
Researchers used SHIP program records and federal Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data to compare the distribution of SHIP resources with the flows of traditional mortgage credit to predominantly Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Florida.
- Descriptive statistics show that SHIP funds supported more Black applicants and more households in neighborhoods with higher Black and Hispanic populations.
- As the share of Black and Hispanic households increases, neighborhoods are more likely to have lower amounts of mortgage capital combined with higher amounts of SHIP assistance, even controlling for other social, economic, and housing market characteristics.
- Not surprisingly for a locally administered program, results varied across localities. In many counties a greater share of Black and Hispanic residents was associated with higher rates of SHIP flow to neighborhoods, but in some the opposite was true.
Implications for Policy and Practice
- Despite progress in reducing racial discrimination in homeownership and lending, mortgage capital flows continue to be restricted in neighborhoods with a high proportion of Black and Hispanic households. The SHIP research points to the potential of local, decentralized programs to address the inequity.
- Sending resources to local governments that are closest to the ground, with broad discretion in how funds are spent, may be a viable strategy for other federal and state programs where structural inequities exist, such as in healthcare.