Black homeownership is not in a good place at the moment. In fact, “the Black homeownership rate is only 41 percent — virtually unchanged from 50 years ago, when the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in housing,” the Huffington Post reported. Compare this to the national white homeownership rate of 71 percent and the gap is glaringly evident. The gap between Black and white homeownership rates is actually wider now than it was in 1900, found a recent study by online real estate company Zillow.
But there are pockets of the United States where home ownership is then norm, especially in several Chicago suburbs.
Take Olympia Fields where the Black homeownership rate is 98 percent. “Olympia Fields is one of the wealthiest and best-educated Black-majority municipalities in the country. It is one of only two sizeable Black-majority cities where median household income is more than $100,000 (the other is Bowie, Maryland). More than half of Olympia Fields residents have a college education, exceeded (among black-majority municipalities) only by its neighbor, Flossmoor, and Lathrup Village in Michigan,” the Huffington Post reported.
There are four other Black-majority municipalities in Chicago where the homeownership rate is at least 80 percent. They are: Flossmoor, Lynwood, Matteson, and South Holland. This happened almost by design. “That is no accident: In the 1990s, a group called Diversity, Inc. helped to boost Black homeownership in the area by sending Black and white buyers to home sellers to ferret out discrimination, and filing lawsuits when they were treated differently,” the HuffPost reported.
“Areas with high levels of African-American homeownership generally have very active fair housing and social justice activity. You will find a history of active organizing and engaging,” said Lisa Rice, president of the National Fair Housing Alliance.
There are other places across the U.S where the Black homeownership rate of 80 percent or more came about from the migration of middle-class families–both Black and white–out of nearby urban areas.
Such areas as Lathrup Village, north of Detroit, and Pleasant Grove, Alabama, near Birmingham, at one time were mostly white before becoming a majority Black. The same for Oakwood, Ohio, and Forest Heights, Maryland.
Still, the story of Black homeownership is much more dismay across the nation and this is due to a number of factors, including redlining and other discriminatory lending practices.
“In the three decades following passage of the Fair Housing Act, the Black homeownership rate rose by almost six percentage points. But the rate declined by two percentage points between 2000 and 2010, as Blacks benefited less than whites from the post-9/11 economic recovery,” the Star Tribune reported.
In the wake of the Great Recession, this rate dropped. But before the housing crisis Black homeownership peaked as nearly 50 percent of African Americans owned homes.
But then things 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,” according to Urban Institute researchers.
“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,” economist Valerie Rawlston Wilson, director of the Economic Policy Institute’s Program on Race, Ethnicity, and the Economy, told the Washington Post.
— L. Marie Asad (@LmarieAsad) August 29, 2018
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