The Resilience of New York’s Black Owners

The Resilience of New York’s Black Homeowners

When Kenyatte Reid, 47, who works for the Department of Education, and Crystal Granderson-Reid, 48, a writer, were newlyweds, they knew they were going to buy Mr. Reid's family brownstone in Brooklyn's Lefferts Manor Historic District. But her window closed.

Some members of Mr. Reid's family were eager to sell and move south, but the couple needed more time to qualify for a mortgage. The relatives reached a compromise that allowed the couple to rent the house for four years while improving their loans and savings, a luxury many are not given. They bought the house in 2003 for less than $ 300,000; Today it's worth about $ 2.2 million.

"We'd never sell it," said Mr. Reid, who had dreamed of buying the house his grandparents, one of the first black families in the neighborhood, bought in the 1950s.

Mr. Reid comes from a homeowner story that dates back to black oystercatchers at Sandy Ground on Staten Island, one of the oldest free black settlements in the country, established before the Civil War.

Ms. Granderson-Reid's experience was more common: her mother sold the family home, a large hilltop house in White Plains, N.Y., below market value to share the proceeds with family members, and she grew up renting it. “The cycle is broken,” she says.

Many families are forced to sell because financial hurdles make it difficult for one family member to buy up the other. From July 2019 to June 2020, 10 percent of black applicants in the U.S. were turned down for mortgages, 2.5 times as many as white applicants, according to a report by the National Association of Realtors, a major trade group.

Black borrowers also bear the highest financing fees – nearly $ 14,000, compared with $ 6,000 for white borrowers, who on average paid the lowest fees, according to the Center for N.Y.C. Neighborhoods.


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