Sometimes there’s a thin line between work and real life.
For one John Hopkins University professor, after teaching lessons to students about redlining, or the act of refusing a loan or insurance to someone because they live in an area deemed to be a “poor financial risk,” he is experiencing housing discrimination himself.
Professor Nathan Connolly teaches the history of redlining in America by day. Unfortunately, by night, his own family has become the target of housing discrimination, according to a report from The New York Times.
Although the professor and his wife Dr. Shani Mott were optimistic about the value of their home increasing after conducting renovations that totaled in the amount of $35,000, on top of another $5,000 for a new tankless water heater, the couple was met with an underwhelming offer.
Maybe The Numbers DO Lie
When they purchased the home in 2017, it was worth $450,000, which is why the pair was completely floored when Maryland appraisal company 20/20 Valuations estimated the current value of their home at $472,000.
They were even more shocked to hear they had also been denied a refinance loan with mortgage lender loanDepot.
Since the pandemic, home prices across the country have spiked, and in the Baltimore, MD, neighborhood where the home of Professor Connolly and Dr. Mott sits, Zillow reports that the houses in the market have gone up 42 percent over the last five years.
After writing a letter to the lending officer at loanDepot in an effort to challenge the appraisal, the pair was met with silence. Still, after a few months, they decided to apply for another refinance loan. This time, however, they removed all family photos from their home.
Professor Connolly even had a fellow John Hopkins colleague who identifies as white, stand in their place for the second attempt at landing the loan.
This is America
This time around, the house was valued at $750,000 giving the couple all the ammunition needed to take matters into their own hands by filing lawsuits against loanDepot, as well as, 20/20 Valuations, and its owner Shane Lanham, the person responsible for conducting the first appraisal.
“Dr. Connolly, Dr. Mott, and their three children were home during the visit, and their house was also filled with family photos, children’s drawings of figures with dark skin, a poster for the film Black Panther and literature by Black authors,” read the suit. “It would have been obvious to anyone visiting that the home belonged to a Black family.”
Art Imitating Life
Furthermore, Professor Connolly who teaches redlining to students at Johns Hopkins for a living, noted that he understands firsthand what appraisal discrimination looks like in America.
“We were clearly aware of appraisal discrimination,” he explained. “But to be told in so many words that our presence and the life we’ve built in our home brings the property value down? It’s an absolute gut punch.”