According to HousingWorks RI’s 2021 Factbook, in Rhode Island, White residents have a homeownership rate (68%) twice that of Black residents (34%) and more than double the rate of Latino homeownership (30%). The root of the disparity is due to historical redlining and housing segregation that still have strong, lasting impacts on people of color today.
Not only does housing segregation impact the homeownership rate of people of color, but it also impacts wealth. Today, nationally, Black people’s incomes are about 60% of White people’s, while Black wealth is 10% of White wealth. Most middle class families gain their wealth from the equity they have in their homes. (Equity is the difference between how much your home is worth and how much you owe on your mortgage.) White families did not have to face housing segregation and therefore are more likely to own homes that increase in value over time, that they can pass down through generations, creating generational wealth.
Also devastating are the challenges Black residents faced as they endeavored to live in more affluent communities. For example, Sugar Hill in Los Angeles was a wealthy, White neighborhood in which affluent Black homeowners began to move into in the 1950’s. White homeowners banned together to try to buy out the new Black homeowners, offering more than their homes were worth, in an attempt to make them leave. When that didn’t work, they tried to enforce a legal agreement barring them from the neighborhood. When that effort also failed, the city council then decided to make the neighborhood into an “African American neighborhood” and rezoned it for multiple family units, until it eventually became a slum.
Slums are created when residents are prohibited from living in more affluent communities with single family units and are forced to live in multi family homes which become overcrowded due to the vast segregation against potential homeowners of color.
To learn more, watch “Segregated by Design” by SilkWorm Studios for an easy, engaging explanation of the forgotten history of how our federal, state and local governments unconstitutionally segregated every major metropolitan area in America through law and policy. Visit https://www.segregatedbydesign.com/ to learn more about the video.