The Lead

Philadelphia’s home appraisal bias task force issues its final report

By: - July 30, 2022 6:30 am
Councilmember Cherelle Parker says “I think we, at the local level, can come up with solutions not just for Philadelphia, but also for Pennsylvania, and the nation.”

Philadelphia mayoral candidate Cherelle Parker (Philadelphia Tribune photo).

30By Philadelphia Tribune Staff

PHILADELPHIA — Earlier this week Philadelphia City Council Majority Leader Cherelle L. Parker, along with Ira Goldstein, president of Policy Solutions at Reinvestment Fund, and the Philadelphia Home Appraisal Bias Task Force, issued its final report and recommendations.

This report is the culmination of more than a year’s work.

On Feb. 25, 2021, Parker, D-9th District, co-wrote an op-ed with Ira Goldstein from Reinvestment Fund and Professor Gregory Squires from George Washington University that was published in WHYY’s PlanPhilly entitled “Home appraisals drive America’s racial wealth gap — 95% of Philly’s appraisers are white.”

Then, on April 26, 2021, Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Housing, Neighborhood Development, and the Homeless heard Parker’s resolution that authorized the committee to hold hearings examining the race gap in home appraisals and its impact on homeownership and wealth accumulation in Philadelphia.

During the hearing, the committee heard from national experts as well as local, on-the-ground practitioners. Parker committed to creating a “working group” made up of those who testified at the hearing, as well as additional experts and practitioners in the field.

The working group ultimately became the Philadelphia Home Appraisal Bias Task Force, which met several times throughout 2021 and into 2022.

The report organizes recommendations for local, state, and national intervention by a set of key problems to be solved when it comes to appraisals. Some recommendations may require legislation, while others just need internal policy and process improvements.

“While I understand that Philadelphia is often reliant on both the state and federal levels of government for policy and funding, it is also not my style to just sit around and wait for help to arrive,” Parker said. “I think we, at the local level, can come up with solutions not just for Philadelphia, but also for Pennsylvania, and the nation. That is what this task force tried to accomplish.”

“What became clear through the task force meetings is that racial bias in home appraisals is a real problem with multiple causes, and both neighborhood and personal consequences,” Goldstein said. “Unlike what we have in the mortgage lending industry, there is a total lack of transparency into home appraisals. Philadelphia will work to improve data access on appraisals locally, and will support a federal effort to create a national public reporting process.”

This story first appeared in the Philadelphia Tribune, a publishing partner of the Pennsylvania Capital-Star. 

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