Friday, December 8, 2023

Report Details Redlining of Native Lands

"REDLINING THE RESERVATION: The Brutal Cost Of Financial Services Inaccessibility In Native Communities"

The National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) and the Native Community Capital have just released in December, 2023 an analytical report detailing the severe negatives of the lack of accessibility to financial services by residents of Native Land Areas. These formerly-called "Indian reservations" have much lower levels of economic prosperity and poorer life chances than other Americans.

This is especially relevant now because in late 2023 new Community Reinvestment Act of 1977 (CRA) regulations specifically included Native Land Areas for the first time. These regulations are aimed at reducing the practice of redlining – the intentional exclusion by banks of minority, immigrant, and poor communities from financial services. Redlining denies creditworthy applicants housing loans in specific neighborhoods, irrespective of their eligibility.

The major findings of the report are:

(1) Traditional mortgage lending is failing Native American families because loan capital should instead flow through Native-led financial institutions aware of the administrative issues, geography, and culture of tribal lands. None of the three largest home lenders in the U.S. issue federally-guaranteed mortgages for the construction of new permanent homes in tribal lands. Therefore, little credit is promoting wealth-building via Native Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), which are often focused exclusively on addressing the lack of access to capital in tribal communities.

(2) Half of all home purchase loans on tribal lands are used to purchase manufactured mobile homes. This is four times the rate elsewhere. Native Americans who succeed in getting a mortgage are often using it to purchase a dwelling that will decrease in value rather than foster generational wealth-building. As a result, wealth is flowing from already-impoverished Native communities because of high-cost lending on low-value housing to financier Warren Buffett, whose firms have a monopoly on manufactured home lending in the report's study area.

(3) Tribal lands received less than 1% of that loaned to small businesses in Arizona and New Mexico, starving Native American communities of economic opportunity. From 2018 to 2021, 0.004% of small business dollars loaned in Arizona and 0.012% in New Mexico went to borrowers on tribal lands. The average census tract on tribal land received only five small business loans, compared to 82 such loans made on average to non-tribal tracts.

(4) Tribal areas have far higher quantified financial need than other rural areas. The financial needs index indicates significantly worse access in tribal areas, meaning that people living on Tribal Lands are not being served nearly as well as other residents of Arizona and New Mexico.

Read the December 2023 NCRC report.

Download the report