Largest US credit union hit by scandal over racial disparity in mortgage approval rates

Vienna, Virginia - Navy Federal – the nation's largest credit union – is coming under fire for the huge disparity in mortgage approval rates for white versus Black borrowers.

Navy Federal Credit Union has been revealed to have the highest disparity in approval rates for mortgage applications from Black versus white Americans.
Navy Federal Credit Union has been revealed to have the highest disparity in approval rates for mortgage applications from Black versus white Americans.  © IMAGO / Zoonar

A CNN analysis found that Navy Federal Credit Union – which serves military veterans, service members, and Department of Defense personnel – approved the home purchase mortgage applications of around 75% of white borrowers as compared to under 50% for Black applicants.

The racial disparity in denial rates remained despite similarities across variables like income, debt-to-income ratios, property values, and more.

In fact, analysts found the credit union had given the green light to a higher percentage of requests from white applicants making under $62,000 a year than it did of Black applicants making $140,000 or more.

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Navy Federal rejected a total of 3,700 Black borrowers last year.

"That is a quite stark disparity," Lisa Rice, who heads the National Fair Housing Alliance, told CNN. "It’s unusual for us to see instances where the lender denies more loans than it approves."

Black Americans demand reparations to right historic wrongs

Historically, homeownership has been one of the primary vehicles to accumulate intergenerational wealth in the US.

Policies that continue to facilitate white homeownership at the expense of Black veterans and civilians have contributed in large part to the country's growing racial wealth gap. Experts have estimated it will take at least $14 trillion to bridge the divide.

States and cities around the country are increasingly pursuing reparations initiatives to address these injustices, while at the federal level, President Joe Biden has ignored persistent calls for a national commission.

Cover photo: IMAGO / Zoonar

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