Black Home Ownership Has Declined To 1968 Rates When Housing Discrimination Was Legal

Written by Ann Brown

These are incredibly distressing stats.

Black Home Ownership Has Declined To 1968 Rate, When Housing Discrimination Was Legal

Black homeownership is as low as it was when housing discrimination was legal, according to a new report by the Urban Institute. This dates back to 1968, when landlords and real estate agents could turn away African Americans and other people of color merely based on race.

“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,” said Margery Austin Turner, senior vice president for program planning and management at the Urban Institute.

The Fair Housing Act made housing discrimination illegal.

The landmark law was passed by President Lyndon Johnson in the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination almost 50 years ago, banning discriminatory practices in housing, Curbed reported.

Black homeownership rates peaked in early 2000s

Black homeownership rates peaked before the 2008 housing crisis. In fact, nearly 50 percent of African Americans owned homes. During the early 2000s more African Americans than ever owned homes, peaking in 2004 and 2005 at 69 percent.

All that has changed.

“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,” Urban Institute researchers reported. This means that in 2015, the Black homeownership rate was about the same as it was back in 1968, while in contrast, the homeownership rate among white Americans rose to about 64 percent.

Homeownership affects wealth building as a person’s net worth is tied to their home. Owning a home can boost a family’s wealth.

“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, in a The Washington Post interview.

Black Home Ownership

Gains made by Black people in home ownership prior to 2008 have been reversed. “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,” Urban Institute researchers said.


Discrimination played a part in this drastic drop.

“A 2012 HUD report on housing discrimination found that people of color are not notified of as many available homes and apartments as their white counterparts, are, for instance,” Blavity reported.

Another factor is neighborhood segregation.

“A typical white person lives in a neighborhood that is 75 percent white and 8 percent African American, while a typical African American person lives in a neighborhood that is only 35 percent white and 45 percent African American,” the US Partnership on Mobility from Poverty reported.

Subprime lending

A higher proportion of subprime lending among Black homeowners also contributed to the inequality. Blacks and Latinos were 2.4 times more likely to receive a subprime mortgage than whites — even if the Black family made considerably more money than the white family, Curbed reported:

“Subprime mortgages are given to buyers with low credit scores or history, and often come with considerably higher interest rates.”

When unable to keep up mortgage payments at these higher rates, many Black homeowners lost their homes — particularly those 65 and older, according to the Urban Institute. This is significant because it means that they would not be able to pass a home down to their heirs — something that would have helped build wealth for future generations.

The Urban Institute drilled into the numbers and found that the biggest drop in Black homeownership from 2000 to 2018 was among those age 45 to 64. During that period, African Americans were the only group whose homeownership rate fell among those age 65 and older.

Homeownership is a vital wealth-building tool. Returns often outpace the stock market.


About Ann Brown

Ann Brown has been a freelance writer for more than two decades. Her work has appeared in CocoaFab, Black Enterprise, Essence,, New York Trend, Upscale, Moguldom, AFKInsider, The Network Journal, Playboy, Africa Strictly Business, For Harriet, Pathfinders, Black Meetings & Tourism, Frequent Flier, Girl, Honey, Source Sports, The Source, Black Radio Exclusive, and Launch. She studied journalism at New York University and has her B.A. Born in New York, Ann lived in Praia, Cabo Verde, for nearly a decade. She created “An American In Cabo Verde,” a Facebook community.