Black, Hispanic/Latino and ethnically mixed communities were hardest hit by the housing crisis during the mid-late 2000s, a terrible situation that was made worse by the phenomenon known as "white flight."

"Neighborhood Foreclosures, Racial/Ethnic Transitions and Residential Segregation," published in the American Sociological Review, stated that the housing crisis, in which nine million U.S. citizens lost their homes, was fueled by racial segregation in communities across the nation.

Cornell University drafted the new analysis after examining urban residential foreclosures from 2005 to 2009.  Demographer Matthew Hall, an assistant professor of policy analysis and management in Cornell's College of Human Ecology and the lead researcher, found that black and Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods lost their homes at a rate three times higher than white areas. Ethnically mixed neighborhoods were also severely affected.

There was an estimated 4.5 foreclosures per 100 homes during the housing crisis. However, black areas experienced 8.1 foreclosures per 100 homes and Latino communities experienced 6.2. At the same time, white areas lost just 2.3 homes on average.

"Among its many impacts, the foreclosure crisis has partly derailed progress in achieving racial integration in American cities," said Hall in a statement.

Between 2005 and 2009, segregation among Latinos and whites grew nearly 50 percent, and segregation between blacks and whites grew 20 percent due to swift relocation: families moving into and abandoning areas hit hard by home seizure.

While multicultural communities struggled with foreclosures, the white population shrank in those same areas, and blacks and Latinos flocked there. Already, whites were less likely to be foreclosed on, but they were also far more likely to depart from an area when foreclosure rates peaked. However, that was less likely for black and Latino/Hispanic individuals; instead, blacks were beckoned to these communities because of the necessity of affordable housing.

Western and Southern cities were most likely to experience reduced racial integration, according to the report. However, northeastern and Rest Belt cities (Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, St. Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, Milwaukee and Chicago) were less impacted by segregation and the crisis, in general.

The study's results suggested the foreclosure crisis probably had a smaller effect on the nation's top cities due to the timing of the crisis in those areas. Also, there was already a "deeply entrench nature of residential segregation" in places like Milwaukee, which is one of the nation's most racially segregated metro areas. The segregation is so pronounced that the Obama administration recently announced intentions to reduce racial segregation in Rust Belt cities.

Researchers didn't definitively explain the cause behind white exodus, and the destinations of those evacuees remained unclear in the findings. Also, the report didn't distinguish if "white population loss from diverse neighborhoods is due to white foreclosed households moving to whiter neighborhoods or to other white households living in these [integrated] neighborhoods fleeing in the face of growing neighborhood distress."

According to the report, white families were "better able than black and Latino families to shield themselves from the social and economic distress often accompanying high concentrations of foreclosure."