Struggling to Stay Afloat: Negative Equity in Communities of Color in the Chicago Six County Region

by Spencer Cowan and Katie Buitrago

The following analysis examines patterns of negative equity in communities of different racial and ethnic compositions in the Chicago six county region. It combines 2011 data on negative equity in Chicago region ZIP codes with U.S. Census data on the racial/ethnic composition of ZIP Code Tabulation Areas (ZCTA).

It finds that negative equity is disproportionately concentrated in the Chicago region’s African American, Latino, and majority minority neighborhoods, and that borrowers in communities of color have much lower equity than do borrowers in predominantly white communities. This report concludes with recommendations to reduce the impact of declining property values and the number of homeowners with negative equity, including broader use of principal reduction loan modifications and short sales.

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