The Biden White House has been publicizing America’s new Juneteenth federal holiday, celebrating the end of Black slavery and the ongoing struggle for real Black independence and equality. One of the White House’s announcements may have puzzled some people: “Exclusionary Zoning: Its Effect on Racial Discrimination in the Housing Market.”
Zoning? We might understand protecting and expanding voting rights, fighting employment discrimination, or attacking white supremacist organizations (all of which the Administration is doing.). But why highlight housing and zoning policy?
Biden’s people know what they’re talking about. America’s housing and zoning policies are riddled with systemic racism. And that continuing racism feeds long-term and ongoing negative impacts on Black incomes, wealth, and equality. Whites are much more likely to inherit wealth than Blacks, and much of that inherited wealth comes from housing equity.Read more
The average White household in the U.S. today has amassed about seven times more wealth than the average Black household. The disparity widened in the half-century since the civil rights movement, despite a wave of laws protecting against racial discrimination at work, in housing and other economic realms. A wave of protests in U.S. cities last year provoked by police killings of Black citizens, including George Floyd on May 25, raised awareness of the history of what academics call systemic racism. Since then, two cities have voted to make reparations for past discrimination, President Joe Biden has supported the idea of studying wider reparations for slavery, and the Federal Reserve and a number of leading private banks have pledged to do more to address racial inequality.Read more
Last summer, DonnaLee Norrington had a dream about owning a home. Not the figurative kind, but a literal dream, as she slept in the rental studio apartment in South Los Angeles that she was sharing with a friend.
At around 2 a.m., Norrington remembers, "God said to me, 'Why don't you get a mortgage that doesn't move?' And in my head I knew that meant a fixed mortgage."
The very next morning — she made an appointment with Mark Alston, a local mortgage broker well known in South LA Black community, to inquire about purchasing her very own home for the first time.
She was 59 at the time.
Alston has built his lending practice on the hope of expanding access to homeownership for Black Americans. He says they have been systematically discriminated against by the real estate industry and government policy. Unlike most loan officers, Alston works with his clients for months — even years — to disentangle a convoluted loan application process, pay off bills and boost credit scores so they can ultimately qualify for a home loan.Read more
NPR's Ailsa Chang talks with writer Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor about the racist real estate practices that ensured wealth accumulated along racial lines, even after housing discrimination became illegal.Read more
Neighborhoods matter. As Vox’s Dylan Matthews reported, researchers Raj Chetty, Nathaniel Hendren, and Lawrence Katz found in 2016 that moving to a wealthier neighborhood not only increased the likelihood that kids would go to college, but also increased earnings by roughly 31 percent by the time they’d reached their mid-20s.
Part of what has kept Kennetha out of living in Franklin is exclusionary zoning. Single-family zoning, which means it’s illegal to build anything other than single-family homes, is prevalent in the suburb. Single-family homes are more expensive than apartments, townhomes, or duplexes, and that makes rent costly, too. Houses in Franklin go for an average price of $550,000, far above the average in Nashville of $335,000.Read more
The Struggle to Find Affordable Housing in Hartford
Kenneth Best,Read more