The U.S. homeownership rate fell 0.7 of a percentage point year over year in the third quarter, to 66.9%, the lowest level since 1999, but the foreclosure crisis is hitting minorities harder than whites, according to government figures released Tuesday morning. 

The Census Bureau reported that the homeownership rate for blacks was 45% in the quarter, down from 46.4% a year earlier. The  rate for whites was 74.7%, down 0.3 of a percentage point.

The homeownership rate for Hispanics was 47% on Sept. 30, down from 48.7% a year earlier.

The 66.9% overall rate was unchanged compared with the second quarter.

Center for Responsible Lending chief executive Martin Eakes expects the homeownership rate for black and Hispanic families will drop to a range of 40% to 42%.

"The foreclosure crisis will have catastrophic human and economic effects on family wealth and neighborhood stability," he told a joint Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. and Federal Reserve Board conference on the foreclosure crisis on Oct 25.

It is "silently destroying low- and moderate-income communities across the nation," Eakes said.

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