How a land contract cost a Detroit woman her home | USA TODAY

Since the 1950s, predatory land contracts have targeted Black homeowners. Sonja Bonnett became a housing activist after a land contract led to a foreclosure.

RELATED: How housing reparations can help close the Black homeownership gap

Often described as a “poor man’s mortgage,” land contract buyers were on the hook for a down payment, high monthly payments, and maintenance of the house while the deed remained in the seller’s name until the very last payment was made. A single missed payment was grounds for eviction.

Many working-class Black families in the 1950s and ’60s were forced to turn to speculative sellers after the federal government refused to insure mortgages in redlined African American neighborhoods.

Speculators often bought homes at a discount from white families as they fled racially changing neighborhoods only to sell them just months later to Black families at inflated prices and high interest rates.

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