"I have repeatedly said that many of the predatory loans that were made in the mortgage system did target African-American and Latino communities."

Barack Obama on Friday, August 1st, 2008 in a town hall in St. Petersburg, Fla.


Obama cites ethnicity in mortgage crisis

In a town hall in St. Petersburg, Fla., an audience member challenged Obama about speaking out on issues affecting the black community, including the subprime mortgage crisis, among other issues.

"Why is it that you have not had the ability to not one time speak to the interests and even speak on behalf of the oppressed and exploited African community or the black community in this country?" the man asked.

Not true, Obama replied. "I think you're misinformed about when you say not one time. Every issue you've spoken about, I actually did speak out on," Obama said.

"I have repeatedly said that many of the predatory loans that were made in the mortgage system did target African-American and Latino communities," Obama said. He went on to defend his record on other civil rights issues.

We wondered if Obama's statement on the subprime mortgage was true, so we looked through press releases, transcripts and news stories to find out.

Most notably, on Oct. 18, 2007, Obama wrote a letter to the Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate subprime lenders to determine whether minority borrowers have been victims of discrimination.

Obama wrote in his leter that there was already substantial evidence to indicate this was so.

"Black families are paying more for home loans than similarly situated white families. Effective action to address this disparity is long overdue," Obama wrote.

On the campaign trail, Obama has also discussed the same issue several times, though we found most of our examples of him discussing it before Hispanic audiences.

On June 28, 2008, Obama told the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials, "We have to stabilize the housing market. And the Latino community as well as the African-American community was particularly hard hit when it comes to foreclosures."

On Feb. 19, 2008, Obama was at a campaign event in San Antonio, Texas, and discussed the need for people having mortgage problems to receive help negotiating with their lenders. "My suspicion is that it's very important we have Spanish-speaking counselors because I know that both the African-American community and Hispanic community have been disproportionately targeted by some of these practices."

It's not a campaign theme he hits over and over again, but Obama has made the statement several times, and the 2007 letter is particularly strong evidence to bolster Obama's argument. We rule his statement True.