The wealth of the typical African American family is one-tenth that of the typical white American family.
Black Homeownership Rate Remains Constant for One-Half Century
According to new data compiled by the Economic Policy Institute (EPI), the rate of black homeownership today is the same as it was 50 years ago, 41.1%. Meanwhile, the rate of white homeownership in the US has risen to 71.1%.
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This 41.1% translates into African American families being able to afford only 20% of the country’s housing stock, according to the National Association of REALTORS®.
This inequality stems from the fact that the typical African American family has just one-tenth the wealth of the typical Caucasian American family. This reality face-smacks Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, also known as the Fair Housing Actof 1968 that “prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.”
Legacy of Inequality
Lisa Rice, executive vice president of the National Fair Housing Alliance, a nationwide consortium of non-profits and agencies dedicated to fighting for equal housing opportunities, said that this housing inequality stems from the historic legacy of African American exclusion from wealth-building housing programs.
From predatory lending programs that continue to choke mortgage credit in communities of color to still-standing redlining zoning policies, the Fair Housing Act has not yet delivered.
Despite the wealth of typical black families increasing six times from $22,467 in 1963 to $17,409 in 2016, the median black family still holds just one-tenth the wealth of the median Caucasian family of $171,000, according to the EPI.
In order for African American families to take advantage of homeownership’s inherent wealth-building, Rice believes the federal government should intensify its enforcement efforts to equalize fair housing and lending laws.
Rice encourages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, federal mortgage guarantors, to scrap surcharges on borrowers from communities of color and to allow Black and Brown borrowers to be assessed based on untraditional measures of creditworthiness.
Richard Rothstein, author of The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, argues for government subsidies to Black and Brown first-time homebuyers.
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