We Can't Forget How Racist Institutions Shaped Homeownership in America

We can't forget how racist institutions shaped homeownership in America, David M. P. Freund, Washington Post, April 28, 2016, available here

Nowadays it is increasingly rare to encounter studies of residential segregation and racial inequality in the United States that do not reckon with the history of discrimination. Still in many scholarly settings and popular venues, our debates concerning urban change and opportunity are distorted by a powerful myth about the places that Americans call home: namely, that patterns of residential development have been driven, above all else, by the preferences of individual housing consumers, or even of entire generations of such consumers. This myth has consequences because it obscures the powerful institutions that have shaped metropolitan landscapes and created opportunity for some while systematically denying it to others. Of course preferences matter for understanding U.S. history, but individual preferences alone did not draw our urban and suburban maps. Nor did they alone determine winners and losers in the markets for residence and community resources.

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