The housing industry has a long and complicated history with racial equity. Though discriminatory policies are now illegal, more corrective action is needed to achieve equality in housing. The housing industry is thriving with low rates and high demand, but low rates of minority homeownership demonstrate the current system is not serving everyone.
The Minority Homeownership Gap
Centuries of compounded inequities and mistreatment of people of color have contributed to a widening wealth gap, only made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic. When it comes to homeownership, the Black community faces many obstacles. Black homeownership has never reached 50% and has seen a continued decrease in net new Black households since the Great Recession.
Black families were hit particularly hard by the 2008 housing crisis and have had the slowest recovery rate amongst all racial groups. Right before the housing collapse, Black homeownership rates were historically high — peaking around 49.7% according to the Census Bureau — making the effects of the downturn devastating to the Black community. Today, the current homeownership gap between Black and white households is wider than before the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968.
Over 10 years following the housing crisis, the average homeownership rate, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, was 64.4%. However, the homeownership rate among Black Americans was only 42%, far below average and significantly below white Americans, who reported a 73.3% homeownership rate. Asian and Hispanic populations also fell, but much closer to average, coming in at 57.7% and 47.5%, respectively.
Fast-forward to the current day; the COVID-19 pandemic has further revealed the inequities embedded into our health and financial systems. COVID-19 has presented many challenges, but it also offers an opportunity for equitable recovery. Building on lessons of the past, the mortgage industry, policymakers and community organizations can minimize the gap in minority homeownership, creating a more inclusive future.