Systemic Inequality: Displacement, Exclusion, and Segregation

Systemic Inequality: Displacement, Exclusion, and Segregation

How America's Housing System Undermines Wealth Building in Communities of Color

Danyelle Solomon, Connor Maxwell, and Abril Castro, Center for American Progress, August 7, 2019. Available Here. 

Homeownership and high-quality affordable rental housing are critical tools for wealth building and financial well-being in the United States.1 Knowing this, American lawmakers have long sought to secure land for, reduce barriers to, and expand the wealth-building capacity of property ownership and affordable rental housing. But these efforts have almost exclusively benefited white households; often, they have removed people of color from their homes, denied them access to wealth-building opportunities, and relocated them to isolated communities. Across the country, historic and ongoing displacement, exclusion, and segregation continue to prevent people of color from obtaining and retaining their own homes and accessing safe, affordable housing.

For centuries, structural racism in the U.S. housing system has contributed to stark and persistent racial disparities in wealth and financial well-being, especially between Black and white households. In fact, these differences are so entrenched that if current trends continue, it could take more than 200 years for the average Black family to accumulate the same amount of wealth as its white counterparts.2 While homeownership and affordable housing are not a panacea for eliminating entrenched racial inequality, lawmakers must make amends for past and present harms by enacting new laws designed to expand access to prosperity for all Americans.

This report examines how government-sponsored displacement, exclusion, and segregation have exacerbated racial inequality in the United States. It first looks at how public policies have systematically removed people of color from their homes. It then considers how federal, state, and local policies have fortified housing discrimination. The final section of the report proposes targeted solutions that would help make the U.S. housing system more equitable.


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