When it comes to banks, there is a long history tied to people of color, especially Black people. For a plethora of reasons, including segregation, discrimination, loss of funds, and others, some Black people have lost trust in banks. Not to mention, from the beginning of time until 1968, banks could legally refuse an application based on the person’s race or neighborhood. Which, sadly, is why Wells Fargo refusing 53% of Black mortgage applications is not shocking. However, it is still hurtful.
According to a Bloomberg analysis, Wells Fargo is the nation’s third largest bank. It also has been denying refinance applications filled out by Black homeowners while 3 out of 4 refinance applications sent by white homeowners are being approved. To break it down, the mega bank has a 47% approval rate for Black applicants. This means something significant when you realize homeownership is one of the surefire routes to building wealth. At a time when African Americans are already at a disadvantage, corporations like Wells Fargo are not making things better.
To make matters worse, the National Association of Realtors released a study that showed African American homeowners were approved 71% of the time by all other lenders apart from Wells Fargo. And it’s not just Black people. Last year alone, Wells Fargo only approved 67% of Asian applicants, and 53% of Hispanic applicants.
As a person of color, the hope is that brands, companies, and people alike will wake up to the role they play (whether conscious or not) in racism and segregation. With the racial strife that occurred in 2020, it seemed as if all industries across the board were ready to right their wrongs. Of course, you could argue that a large portion were performative, but it’s natural to believe that change was coming. Wells Fargo declining 53% of Black mortgage applications sets us back as a country. It tells us that organizations still don’t care. But even worse, they can get away with it.
I’m hopeful for the day that headlines like this won’t exist. That people will step outside of lived experiences and understand how this could impact lives and lives to come. Not approving mortgage applications can greatly jeopardize generational wealth plans and immediate lives. Unsurprisingly, again, Wells Fargo has not released a statement on this, and let’s be real, they probably will not.
So what can you do in the meantime? If you’re planning on buying a home, do your research, and make sure you avoid these mistakes—so you can get approved and buy the home of your dreams. Also, look into these Black-owned banks.