Long Before Redlining: Racial Disparities in Homeownership Need Intentional Policies

Long Before Redlining: Racial Disparities in Homeownership Need Intentional Policies, Lisa Rice, ShelterForce, February 15, 2019, available here

Many of the economic challenges facing our nation—the racial wealth gap, the homeownership divide, inequities in credit access—have their origins in discriminatory housing and economic policies implemented from the colonial period through present times. But there is also a centuries-long ethos that many Americans have internalized: that their accomplishments were largely the result of a hard work ethic and a determined grit, and that others who did not achieve similar success just did not work hard enough, got themselves into trouble, or were not smart about the choices they made in life.

The reality is that white Americans have always benefited from supportive systems that propped them up, making the American Dream more attainable, while people of color have been deliberately excluded from these same opportunities. This disparity is probably best illustrated in the way our country has provided, or not provided, access to the single most important determinant of wealth for the majority of people in the U.S.—home and land ownership.

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