American Banker: Black entrepreneurs take aim at racial wealth gap by starting mortgage fintech

American Banker, June 29, 2022, Black entrepreneurs take aim at racial wealth gap by starting mortgage fintech

A fintech startup launching this Labor Day is looking to chip away at the racial wealth and homeownership gaps by helping its customers show lenders that, even if they don’t have the credit score to secure a mortgage, they have the cash flow.

Ashley D. Bell, the founder and CEO of Ready Life, has landed Bernice A. King as chair of the fintech’s advisory council; she is a lawyer, minister, and the youngest child of civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr. and Coretta Scott King. Bell currently works at law firm Dentons as senior counsel and was formerly the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration for Region IV, which encompasses most of the South.

Ready Life and Bell are taking a marketing-forward approach to attract the customers they are looking to help — mainly Black folks and other people of color who feel cheated by the current lending system that prioritizes good credit when considering mortgage eligibility.

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Redlining and Neighborhood Health

Before the pandemic devastated minority communities, banks and government officials starved them of capital.

Lower-income and minority neighborhoods that were intentionally cut off from lending and investment decades ago today suffer not only from reduced wealth and greater poverty, but from lower life expectancy and higher prevalence of chronic diseases that are risk factors for poor outcomes from COVID-19, a new study shows.

The new study, from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition (NCRC) with researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee Joseph J. Zilber School of Public Health and the University of Richmond’s Digital Scholarship Lab, compared 1930’s maps of government-sanctioned lending discrimination zones with current census and public health data.

Table of Content

  • Executive Summary
  • Introduction
  • Redlining, the HOLC Maps and Segregation
  • Segregation, Public Health and COVID-19
  • Methods
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion and Policy Recommendations
  • Citations
  • Appendix

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