Milwaukee’s homeownership racial disparity rate is one of the largest gaps in the country and a reflection of decades of systemic, institutionalized racist policies and practices most commonly referred to as “redlining.” In 1975 Congress enacted the Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA), which required certain financial institutions to provide mortgage data to the public on an annual basis. This data helps show whether lenders are serving the housing needs of their communities, gives public officials information that helps to develop policies, and sheds light on lending patterns that could be discriminatory.

Since 2012, UEDA’s Take Root Milwaukee (TRM) program has performed an annual analysis of HMDA data to assess trends in the local mortgage lending market, who the top lenders are, the types of loans made, where loans are being made, to whom loans are made, and how this changes from year to year. 

In 2020 the TRM Education & Advocacy workgroup developed an educational series based on what we’ve learned, looking at additional tools in the HMDA data set to inform our work in sustainable homeownership, and encourage our members and partners to work to advance racial equity when it comes to accessing credit and the opportunity of homeownership. 

Thank you to our workgroup co-chairs, Bethany Sanchez and Lamont Davis, and other TRM members Bill Kopka, Maria Prioletta, and Irma Yepez Klassen for their support to plan the series. Stay tuned as this series will continue into 2022!

you will find a brief recap and links to resources for each session, ancheck out this tip sheet for suggestions on increasing loans to people of color and in low and moderate income neighborhoods which was shared during our 2021 sessions.

What We Can Learn From Home Mortgage Disclosure Act Data | 12/3/20
The first session explored 2019 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act data for Milwaukee County and the City of Milwaukee, discussed how this information can be used to increase access to credit for non-white and low- to moderate-income borrowers, and reviewed lenders who appear to meeting the needs of their community with their loans. View the session recording here and presentation slides here.

HMDA Lending Disparity Profiles | 10/8/21
Our next presentation focused specifically on borrowers and reviewed loan applications, originations, and denials by race. We also discussed strategies to ensure all lenders, not just CRA staff, are doing everything possible to get potential borrowers to the table and close on a home loan. View the session recording here and presentation slides here

2020 HMDA Analysis & Credit Access | 12/3/21
The third session in this series focused on the release of 2020 HMDA data for the City of Milwaukee. We looked at top lenders, types of loans made, where and to whom loans were made, and changes from 2019 to 2020. We broadened our discussion to how racial disparities continue to persist in credit indicators that impact mortgage lending, and talked about strategies to increase access to credit for non-white and low- to moderate-income borrowers. View the session recording here and presentation slides here.

This recent blog from the Urban Institute Housing & Housing Finance provided important context to this year’s HMDA analysis: Closing the Homeownership Gap Will Require Rooting Systemic Racism Out of Mortgage Underwriting (October 2021).

In August of 2021, Take Root Milwaukee (TRM) celebrated 10+ years of helping Milwaukee citizens purchase, repair and maintain their homes. The celebration, which was postponed from 2020, brought together participants from over 50 organizations to reflect on the progress of the program and envision what the future of homeownership in Milwaukee could look like.

Take Root Milwaukee was launched in 2010 as a partnership with the City of Milwaukee and Freddie Mac. It is a collaborative effort, from a diverse group of organizations, to preserve and promote sustainable diverse neighborhoods by encouraging and maintaining homeownership.

“The birth of Take Root Milwaukee came out of the foreclosure crisis,” said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. “It allowed realtors, counselors, neighbors and community groups to work with the city to stabilize housing in Milwaukee.”

The celebration welcomed Joaquin Altoro, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA), who provided guests with inspiring opening remarks, and Mayor Tom Barrett, who has been a strong advocate and supporter of the network since its launch in 2010.

Krisit Luzar, UEDA Executive Director, and Johanna Jimenez, Take Root Milwaukee Program Manager, shared insight into how this network was formed and how it has continued to grow and evolve over the years to meet the needs of the community. It is currently a program of UEDA.

Additionally, members of the TRM Resource & Oversight Committee recognized both Kristi Luzar and Jessica Wetzel of UEDA with a Certificate of Recognition for their commitment to Take Root Milwaukee and the success it has brought to the Milwaukee-area residents it serves.

Over the past decade, Take Root Milwaukee has brought together 54+ organizational members, representing homeownership counseling agencies, financial institutions, realtors, local government, neighborhood organizations and other community partners.  Together, they have helped 7,600+ individuals and families become homeowners, and nearly 7,000 individuals and families complete critical repairs in their homes.

To learn more about Take Root Milwaukee, check out our 10 Year Impact Report and watch our Anniversary Celebration video below.