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Indy woman’s story plays role in US appraisal equity plan

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The White House has used a News 8 story to address the inequity in home appraisals.

Carlette Duffy’s story of appraisal discrimination was one of many that helped the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development get the ball rolling on an equity plan, which was released this month.

News 8 viewers may recall Duffy’s story in which she said she had to whitewash her process to get a adequate appraisal. Advocates say hers is just one story of many spotlighting 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 this is wrong.”

Duffy in 2020 was trying to use the equity in her remodeled home to buy her grandparents’ home in one of Indy’s historically Black neighborhoods. But, appraisals came in much lower than she expected. So, she decided to remove all signs of her ethnicity from the home and have a white friend stand in for her.

“For him to to be my brother in this and to stand in and basically say, you know, to make have them believe that I’m not Black,” she said.

Amy Nelson with the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana said that Duffy’s bravery in sharing her story may help others step forward. Nelson helped Duffy file a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Nelson said homes in Black neighborhoods have historically been undervalued. “They were never valued at the rate that they should have been bias is already baked into the appraisal process.”

Duffy’s story along with others were cited in the original plan development for the department’s Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity plan, also known to a few by the acronym PAVE. The plan aims to close the racial wealth gap by addressing misvaluations for families and communities of color.

“The appraisal industry has been able to operate without much oversight,” Nelson said.

Key points include: creating guards against discrimination, driving up industry accountability, diversifying the appraisal industry, empowering consumers to take action, and giving researchers better access to data.

“There are some items in there that I think will have some immediate action,” Nelson said, “and we’ll start to see that within the industry, or some other recommendations me, as an advocate, I wish you would’ve gone a little bit further.”

Duffy said her advocacy work is building another type of generational wealth: knowledge.

“Standing up for yourself. You’re standing up for you know, a whole community,” Duffy said.