When we talk about systemic racism in America, most people pivot to police brutality and other justice system-related racial disparities. But systemic racism also manifests itself in the form of hiring discrimination, educational resource distribution, voter suppression, the devaluing of Black history and social studies, and, of course, housing discrimination.
According to CBS News, a Black couple in California settled a federal housing discrimination lawsuit with a white real estate appraiser, who was accused of giving the Black couple a lower appraisal than they would a white couple with the same home, a practice that is so common in America it almost seems like standard practice in the Caucasian war against Black homeownership. The couple first made headlines when they revealed that they received a home appraisal worth $500,000 less than their white friend, who pretended to be the owner of their home.
Now the couple, Paul Austin and Tenisha Tate-Austin, has been granted an undisclosed monetary amount after filing their lawsuit against the licensed appraiser, who doesn’t have to admit to any wrongdoing but is required to attend training sessions on segregation and agree to not discriminate in the future, according to a press statement published by the Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California (FHANC).
When mortgage rates were low in early 2020, the couple jumped at the chance to refinance their home. They had alreadyand generated more cash for additional improvements, “CBS Mornings” reported at the time.
In 2019, the home was appraised at over $1.4 million, but one year later, they said it was appraised at just $995,000. The couple suspected something was wrong.
“I mean, it’s the financial impact, but it’s the emotional impact,” Tate-Austin told “CBS Mornings” in 2021. “It’s the feeling every day like, the tax of being African-American in this country, like you don’t know, it’s a coin toss. You’re not for sure what’s going to happen.”
The couple decided to get another appraisal. This time, they asked a White friend of theirs to pretend to be Tate-Austin, and the couple removed their family photos and any African-themed art, FHANC said.
A different appraiser then assessed the home’s value at nearly $1.5 million dollars.
It’s a damn shame that the only way Black homeowners can prove or even know they’re being discriminated against is to pull the old switcheroo with whatever white people they know who are willing to participate in an episode of To Catch A Housing Racist.
“Having to erase our identity to get a better appraisal was a wrenching experience,” Tate-Austin said in a statement following the settlement. “We know of other Black families who either couldn’t get a loan because of a discriminatory appraisal and therefore either lost the opportunity to buy or sell a home, or they had to sell their home because they had an unaffordable loan. We hope by bringing attention to our case and this lawsuit settlement, we can help change the way the appraisal industry operates, and we can start to see a different trend.”
Yeah, it would be nice if these racist appraisers learned their lesson, but seeing as there have already been so many stories involving Black people having white friends pretend to own their homes in sting operations to catch a racist in power red-handed, and these appraisers are just too anti-Black not to keep on falling for okey-doke, it doesn’t seem like things will change any time soon.
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