Reducing the Racial Homeownership Gap
The gap in the homeownership rate between black and white families in the US is bigger today than it was when it was legal to refuse to sell someone a home because of the color of their skin.
In 1960, there was a 27-point gap between black homeownership (38 percent) and white homeownership (65 percent). Today, the gap stands at 30 points, with rates of 42 and 72 percent, respectively.
The gains made in the three decades after the 1968 Fair Housing Act were erased after 2000, as forces within and beyond the housing market aligned to reduce the black homeownership rate.
Black homebuyers bought homes at the peak of the bubble at higher rates than white and Asian homebuyers and were disproportionately the victims of predators who offered subprime loans even to those who qualified for prime loans.
On average, black families did not benefit as much as white families from the economic recovery since the housing market crashed in 2008. As a result, the black homeownership rate dropped more than 2 percentage points from 2000 to 2010 and slid even faster after 2010.
The decline in black homeownership threatens to exacerbate racial inequality for decades to come. Homeownership remains the principal way most families build wealth in this country.
Changing the course of this entrenched problem will require intentional policymaking, an evidentiary foundation, and effective partnerships at the national and local level between the many stakeholders in the housing ecosystem.
And closing the black-white homeownership gap is a critical indicator of whether we are on course to be a fair, just society with equal access to opportunity for all.
We must take action to avoid further decline. Reforms are needed that provide more affordable rental housing and more plentiful and secure access to homeownership.