New Study Examines How Black DC Residents were Discouraged and Barred from Renting or Purchasing Homes by the Federal Government, Banks, Realtors and Citizens Associations

From [HERE] In an essay on tax practices that amplify racial inequities, D.C. Policy Center Executive Director Yesim Sayin Taylor examines how property tax treatment of owner-occupied housing amplifies existing inequalities in wealth, both today and in generations to come. However, the landscape for today’s racial disparities in income, wealth, and home ownership, as well as the patterns of segregation and underinvestment, follow from a long history of public and private practices that have discriminated against Black communities and other communities of color.

Many experts have explored how racial disparities in the present day have stemmed from policies and practices in the District’s history. The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital—a joint publication of the Urban Institute, Duke University, The New School, and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development—is one such vital resource, tracing the barriers that prevented D.C.’s Black residents from building wealth and assets from the Black Codes of the 1840s through the destruction of the Barry Farms community in the 1940s, as well as white flight, urban renewal, and the effects of the Greatc Recession. Along with books like Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, Howard Gillette, Jr.’s Between Justice & Beauty: Race, Planning, and the Failure of Urban Policy in Washington, D.C., and Chris Myers Asch and George Derek Musgrove’s Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital, The Color of Wealth shows that D.C.’s Black residents were not passively priced out of housing in high-opportunity areas due to the legacy effects of slavery; they were explicitly discouraged and barred from renting or purchasing homes by the federal government, banks, realtors, and citizens associations.[1]

This supplementary publication gives a brief summary of this history in the 20th century through today in order to provide context for discussions of present-day practices, drawing on these and other resources. It is part of a broader series of essays about racial equity in D.C., including a written symposium on achieving racial equity in housing outcomes, available at [MORE]