Grant Winner | Housing Finance

Center for NYC Neighborhoods

New York State

Underwriting for Good aims to rewrite who gets to be a homeowner in the United States by dramatically increasing the amount of credit flowing to families of color with modest means. By harnessing the power of financial technology (fintech), the tool will affirmatively address racial inequity and reduce the racial wealth gap through at-scale, non-discriminatory lending.

A woman walking down the street next to brownstone buildings

The Center for NYC Neighborhoods was launched amid the 2008 mortgage crisis to help families regain financial stability. Today, they work to promote and protect affordable homeownership through a focus on racial equity and climate change.

The Center’s partners on Underwriting for Good are mortgage experts Mountain View Advisors and management consultant and technology firm Decision Science Analytics.

A team of people holding a meeting around a table while one lady is speaking
Members of the Underwriting for Good innovation team at a convening of Breakthrough Challenge winners in Brownsville, Texas, in April 2022. From left: Charlie Patron, CNYCN; Kerris Lee, Decision Science Analytics; and Natasha Pallan, CNYCN.


When it comes to traditional mortgage lending, families of color and people with low and moderate incomes historically have been shut out, improperly denied and overcharged. In large part that’s because automated underwriting systems — the algorithmically-based platforms that help determine who can receive a loan and at what rate — are built for people who “fit the profile.” Studies suggest that nearly all of these systems deliver racially discriminatory outcomes.  

The Center's CDFI and other mission-driven lenders have created alternative systems to better serve people of color. But they cannot operate at the scale of conventional lending. Underwriting for Good would automate alternative systems to make credit flow more equitably with the goal of closing the racial wealth gap and increasing homeownership rates among people of color and people with modest means.  


The Underwriting for Good system expands access to credit by looking beyond traditional metrics of creditworthiness – such as credit scores – to increase access to homeownership for Black and Brown families in New York State and, potentially, other parts of the United States. 
Underwriting for Good uses alternative credit data, including rental payments, utility payments, and subscription services that show sustained payments and cash flow, to support borrowers with lower credit scores or who lack credit history. 

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“Without the Breakthrough Challenge, the idea that we need to look more holistically at people when it comes to mortgage lending would still be a great idea. But without the seed capital to explore this innovation, it would not be on its way to being launched and implemented.”  
Natasha Pallan, Center for NYC Neighborhoods

Underwriting for Good also uses automation to provide families faster and more affordable access to home mortgages. This automated digital underwriting system – sophisticated software that analyzes whether a borrower is qualified for a loan – automates a process that is often subject to lengthy manual review and approval, which can introduce bias.

A woman sitting on her porch holding her black dogs face
Underwriting for Good aims to close the racial homeownership gap by changing the way lenders see Black and Brown borrowers and by ensuring fast access to fair and affordable mortgage terms.


Once implemented, Underwriting for Good will improve access to mortgages for Black and Brown borrowers in New York State. Its impact will expand and diversify the number of qualified borrowers and increase refinancing opportunities for existing homeowners. 

Looking further ahead, Underwriting for Good’s innovators seek national adoption of the system. Going to scale will create a new supply of mortgage loans in which secondary market investors can invest, freeing up additional liquidity to lending institutions – and potentially enabling credit access to millions of borrowers of color who will gain the opportunity to build wealth through homeownership.

Reinventing Underwriting

See how the Center for New York City Neighborhoods’ Underwriting for Good innovation has harnessed financial technology (fintech) to help credit flow more equitably – and increase homeownership rates among people of color and people with modest means.

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