Zoning, Housing Regulation, And America’s Racial Inequality

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.


Housing expert Jim Carr says that in spite of the struggles and victories of the civil rights movement and anti-discrimination laws, America’s Black-white home ownership gap is actually five points higher today than it was in 1920. Of course, few people owned houses back then, but the great boom in American homeownership after World War II also was racially exclusionary.

The racial gap has been caused by formal government policy, housing finance practices, economic discrimination and exclusion, and the way our metropolitan regions are organized politically.


Zoning, Housing Regulation, And America’s Racial Inequality, Richard McGahey, Forbes, June 30, 2021, available here

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