Black and Latinos are at a disproportionate risk in the ongoing foreclosure crisis because they are more likely than whites to have higher-cost mortgage loans and face higher unemployment rates, a report says.
The report from the William C. Velasquez Institute called on the federal government to take steps, including reforming bankruptcy laws and expanding eligibility for mortgage modification efforts, to help combat the crisis.
"If nothing is done then the foreclosures will continue disproportionately hitting blacks and Latinos," said UCLA professor Raul Hinojosa the author of the study.
Hinojosa was in New York City on Monday to talk about the report that was officially released last week. He said continued foreclosures could wipe out billions of dollars in home equity wealth amassed in those communities, and even those black and Latino homeowners who kept their homes would be affected by lower property values in foreclosure-riddled neighborhoods.
"Not only are you wiping out this generation of black and Latino families," he said, "but those neighborhoods go into serious decline."
Jose Calderon, vice president of programs and policy for the Hispanic Federation, which took part in the Monday event, said the foreclosures carried a far-reaching impact.
"The social cohesion of our communities is being destroyed," he said.
Unemployment is now the primary force behind foreclosures. Borrowers are struggling with no income and lenders are having a harder time reworking troubled loans.
Blacks and Latinos suffer in comparison to whites both in unemployment rates and having loans with higher interest rates.
The nationwide unemployment rate is 10.2 percent. For blacks, it's 15.7 percent and for Latinos, 13.1 percent.
As far as high-cost mortgages are concerned, the report said that in regions across the country, blacks and Latinos were anywhere from two to nine times as likely as whites to have those kinds of loans.
The William C. Velasquez Institute is a nonpartisan think tank that studies Hispanic issues.