Forty-eight percent of African-Americans and 34% of Hispanic Americans have bad credit records -- versus 27% of whites -- according to a study by Freddie Mac.

The study was unveiled at a press conference Tuesday by the government-sponsored enterprise, which says it did the research under an initiative to improve African-American families' homeownership opportunities. Leland C. Brendsel, chairman and chief executive officer of Freddie Mac, said: "Homeownership gives people a stake in their communities. Many minority families have not achieved the dream; or if they have, they have paid too much."

People were deemed to have bad credit records if they had been 90 days late on a payment in the last two years, 30 days late more than once in the past two years, or had delinquent liensor a bankruptcy.

In the study, 22% of those with income of $65,000 to $75,000 had bad credit records. This share rose to 34.5% among African-Americans in the same income category.

Freddie Mac did the survey during the summer in partnership with Benedict College, Clark Atlanta University, Florida A&M, Howard University, and Saint Augustine's College. Freddie and the five historically black schools plan a consumer credit initiative to help consumers improve their credit and better understand the credit process.

The National Urban League and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People plan to assist Freddie and the schools in distributing educational materials. Freddie said it has spent $2 million on the survey and more than 50 focus groups.

The research underscores the need for basic credit education, Freddie Mac said. Dwight Robinson, senior vice president for corporate relations, said focus group sessions showed that many people have a "whimsical attitude toward credit" and do not know such attitudes can lessen their chances of owning a home.

Subscribe Now

Access to authoritative analysis and perspective and our data-driven report series.

14-Day Free Trial

No credit card required. Complete access to articles, breaking news and industry data.