June 28, 2024

NEWARK – The New Jersey Institute for Social Justice, Fair Share Housing Center, New Jersey Citizen Action and the Housing Community Development Network of New Jersey (the “Social Justice Advocates”) today praised the passage of a bill aimed at eliminating discrimination in home appraisals.

After previous passage in the Senate, the Assembly voted today in favor of S1311/A2280, which codifies prohibition of discriminatory practices in real estate appraisals in New Jersey and requires appraisers to complete anti-bias training

Discrimination in housing appraisals strips wealth from Black communities and other communities of color who have historically been denied the same lending opportunities, public subsidies and other supports that white communities have used to build wealth through homeownership. With homeownership being the primary driver of wealth, this kind of discrimination in housing contributes directly to New Jersey’s huge racial wealth gap: a $300,000 disparity in the median wealth between Black and white households.

The bill now goes to Gov. Murphy for his signature.

Below are statements from the Social Justice Advocates:

“Black families in New Jersey already face far too many barriers to acquiring generation wealth – they should not have to fear that their homes will be appraised at substantially lower values than if a white family stood in for the appraisal,” said Laura Sullivan, Director of the Economic Justice Program at the New Jersey Institute for Social Justice. “This legislation goes a long way in ensuring that the appraisal process is fair by providing necessary tools to tackle discrimination. We appreciate the work of Sen. Nellie Pou and Asw. Yvonne Lopez in making this a reality.”

“Holding appraisers accountable for discrimination is one of the ways we must address New Jersey’s racial wealth gap,” said Alex Staropoli, Managing Director of External Affairs at Fair Share Housing Center. “For most homeowners, their house is their most valuable asset. Appraisal bias has been robbing Black families of hard-won equity for decades — this is an important step toward repairing those multi-generational harms.”

“We applaud state lawmakers for passing legislation that gives New Jersey authorities more enforcement tools to hold appraisers accountable when they are guilty of discrimination.” said Beverly Brown Ruggia, New Jersey Citizen Action Financial Justice Program Director. “Appraisal discrimination is a modern day form of redlining that perpetuates the staggering racial gap in median wealth between Black and White families in the state of over $300,000 and hurts property values for entire communities. The legislation will help ensure that homes in communities of color are properly valued and that all homeowners will have access to the historically proven pathway to generational wealth.”

“Homeownership is the single, most direct way families and individuals can create and maintain wealth,” said Staci Berger, President and CEO, Housing Community Development Network of NJ. “With this bill and with the governor’s signature, we have an unprecedented opportunity to address NJ’s racial wealth gap, which is the widest in our country. We applaud the sponsors and leadership for moving this bill forward and to help mitigate and undo systemic and institutional racism, which prevents Black and Brown families from achieving the same benefits of homeownership, including growing and passing on generational wealth.”