A WashPost writer says "I was scrolling through my Twitter feed and was stopped cold by a tweet about black homeownership rates.
The tweet said the gains made since the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 have all been erased.
That tweet took me to a blog post by Margery Austin Turner, senior vice president for program planning and management at the Urban Institute. She was putting into perspective how far we’ve come in housing discrimination in 50 years.
The answer is: Far for a while, then things started to roll back.
“Until 1968, landlords could legally refuse to rent to African Americans and other people of color, and homeowners and real estate agents could refuse to show or sell them homes,” she writes. “Banks could deny mortgage loans based on a homebuyer’s race or a neighborhood’s racial mix. And white communities could pass zoning and land-use restrictions designed to keep people of color out. The federal Fair Housing Act declared these practices illegal, protecting people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home or applying for a mortgage loan.”
Progress was made. Black homeownership rates peaked before the housing crisis. Almost 50 percent of African Americans owned homes.
That was then.
This is now: “From 2000 to 2015, that gain was more than erased as forces within and beyond the housing market aligned to reduce the black homeownership rate to 41.2 percent,” according to Urban Institute researchers.
In 2015, the black homeownership rate was virtually unchanged since 1968. The homeownership rate among white Americans is about 64 percent.
Put another way, black homeownership is as low as it was when housing discrimination was legal.
“Owning a home can increase a family’s financial security, but black people and other minorities significantly lag behind white people in homeownership rates, a major factor contributing to the racial wealth gap,” the Urban Institute’s Alanna McCargo and Sarah Strochak wrote.
Read their research: Mapping the black homeownership gap
And more research from the Urban Institute: A closer look at the fifteen-year drop in black homeownership
From the Economic Policy Institute: 50 years after the Kerner Commission, black Americans are not economically equal
“Black Americans have clearly put a tremendous amount of personal effort into improving their social and economic standing, but that effort only goes so far when you’re working within structures that were never intended to give equal outcomes,” said economist Valerie Rawlston Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy. [MORE]