INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The White House used a News 8 story to address the injustice of home valuations.
Carlette Duffy’s story of rating discrimination was one of many that helped the US Department of Housing and Urban Development get an equity plan rolling that was released this month.
News 8 viewers may remember Duffy’s story, in which she said she had to whitewash her trial to get a proper rating. Advocates say her story is just one of many highlighting decades of discriminatory practices in the home loan and appraisal process.
Duffy said, “I don’t have the expertise or the skills to say, ‘This is how you fix it.’ I just know how to say that’s wrong.”
In 2020, Duffy tried to use the equity from her remodeled home to buy her grandparents’ home in one of Indy’s historically black neighborhoods. But the ratings have been much lower than she expected. So she decided to remove all signs of her ethnicity from the house and have a white friend fill in for her.
“The fact that he’s my brother on this and he’s stepping in and basically saying, you know, to make them believe I’m not black,” she said.
Amy Nelson of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana said Duffy’s courage in sharing her story could help others move forward. Nelson helped Duffy file a complaint with the Department for Housing and Urban Development.
Nelson said homes in black neighborhoods have historically been undervalued. “They were never graded as they should have been. Bias is already burned into the grading process.”
Duffy’s story was cited along with others in the original plan development for the department’s Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity plan, also known to some by the acronym PAVE. The plan aims to close the racial wealth gap by addressing misjudgments for families and communities of color.
“The ratings industry has been able to operate without a lot of oversight,” Nelson said.
Key points include: creating safeguards against discrimination, strengthening industry accountability, diversifying the ratings industry, empowering consumers to take action, and providing researchers with better access to data.
“There are some points in it that I think need to be implemented immediately,” Nelson said, “and we’ll see that happen in the industry or with some other recommendations.” As a lawyer, I wish you had gone a little further.”
Duffy said her advocacy work is building a different kind of generational wealth: knowledge.
“Stand up for yourself. You’re standing up for a whole community,” Duffy said.