By Jenny Connelly-Bowen, CBN Graduate Research Assistant

This week, we’re sharing three maps that examine 2014 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act (HMDA) data on approved home loans in the St. Louis region. The Publications section of this week’s newsletter features a new report from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition that reveals that race has a significant influence on mortgage lending activity in St. Louis City neighborhoods. While the study confirms that neighborhoods with lower median family income levels tend to receive less mortgage investment in general, it also shows that the concentration of home loans in majority white neighborhoods—and the parallel scarcity of home loans in predominantly black neighborhoods—cannot be entirely explained by income variation, “meaning that credit is flowing more to neighborhoods with higher percentages of white residents with the same income profile” (page 5 of the report).

In sum, this research reveals that in the City of St. Louis, neighborhood racial composition is almost as important a predictor of home loan activity as is neighborhood family income. Pages 6-8 of the report include regional maps that chart by census tract the number of home purchase loans per 100 houses in 2012-2014 against that census tract’s percentage minority population. The maps also overlay shading to indicate which areas are classified as low or moderate income, which reveals higher levels of mortgage activity among low- and moderate-income white neighborhoods than low- and moderate-income minority neighborhoods.

The maps below, created using QGIS software, aggregate total approved home loans by census tract in the St. Louis region for the year 2014, the most recent year for which HMDA data is available online. HMDA regulations provide public loan data (available for download here) that can be used to verify whether financial institutions are meeting their communities’ housing needs and to detect potential discrimination in lending patterns. Specific financial institutions are required to comply with HMDA regulations: banks, credit unions, savings associations, and other mortgage lenders. The lending data they submit is reviewed and aggregated by metropolitan statistical area (MSA), metropolitan division (MD), and financial institution by the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council (FFIEC). You can read more about HMDA here.

These maps review 2014 approved home loan data in three different forms. The first map, in blue, displays total home loan dollars approved by census tract in 2014. Here, there is an obvious concentration of home loan dollars in West St. Louis County, and many census tracts in South St. Louis City and County received more home loan dollars than most tracts in North St. Louis City:

HMDA 2014 Approved Home Loans - Dollar Amount

The second and third maps reveal a similar pattern. Most of the census tracts that received the lowest number of approved home loans in 2014—between 1 and 32—are located in North St. Louis City and County. Conversely, most of the census tracts that received the highest percentage of total home loans in 2014—between 0.64% and almost 1%—are located in West and South St. Louis County.

HMDA 2014 Approved Home Loans - Loan Count

HMDA 2014 Approved Home Loans - Percentage of Total

If you look closely, you will notice that there are two census tracts in North St. Louis City with no coloring at all on all three maps. These two tracts, 1202 and 1212, received zero approved home loans during 2014, according to HMDA data.

To see maps from previous editions of the Community Builders Exchange, click here.