Examining the Racial Gap in Home Ownership

By Tiasia Saunders, Howard University News Service
Special to The Truth

Historically, homeownership allowed people to build wealth and assets. Despite this, Black Americans face systemic obstacles that prevent them from becoming homeowners.

In Roll Call’s Equal Time podcast, Courtney Johnson Rose, PhD, the president of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, discussed the importance of owning a home.

“Homeownership, traditionally, has been a cornerstone for wealth building. When you think about the African American community and the wealth we do have, 60 percent of that comes from home equity,” said Rose.

According to the National Association of Realtors, homeownership rates increased by 65.5 percent in 2021; however, Black Americans’ homeownership rates have increased by 0.4 percent in the past decade and are 29 percent less than their white counterparts.

Stephanie Ireland, realtor and owner of the Ireland Group with EXP Realty says that setbacks against Black homeownership are present throughout the housing sector.

“The discrimination is not just in lending, it’s in appraisals, assistance program formulation, etc,” Ireland said.

“The best defense is a good offense. Know your rights, know your values, know what you’re entitled to and then work with people who will help you achieve those goals,” she said.

“You would think after almost 60 years since the Fair Housing Act (1968) that we would be further ahead, but we are not. People must be aware of their rights and be willing to report violations when they encounter them,” she continued.

A lack of access to federal assistance programs, protection from predatory lenders, and redlining practices are all components of structural racism within the housing system.

Households of color remain less likely to own their own homes than white households, even after controlling for protective factors such as education, income, age, geographical region, state, and marital status, according to an American Progress report.

Homeownership promotes wealth building through home value appreciation, which increases over time. In addition, it provides forced savings through mortgage payments, which leads to more home equity.

“I believe that having homeownership allows one to have control to customize their living situation, it also allows them to create a long-term connection with the community,” said Jomalee Smith, a sophomore political science major from Philadelphia, PA.

I believe that it is important to be 100% transparent to black people when they are trying to get home repayments,” Smith added.

Organizations such as Habitat for Humanity work to counter housing discrimination through the development of a racial equity lending strategy, providing funding opportunities and advocacy for policy proposals and legislation for equitable housing.

“To start, I was single with two kids and, at the time, I was pursuing my Bachelor’s degree. Habitat for Humanity truly helped me to become a homeowner,” Kimberly Brooks, a special needs counselor from Danville, VA, said.

Due to systemic obstacles within the housing system, most Black Americans tend to be renters throughout their lifetimes. To promote change, Johnson recommends that Black Americans become knowledgeable about real estate and how to navigate the housing system.

“Black people could do anything. In my perspective, we buy homes, we buy real estate, and we create generational wealth. We can do it if given the opportunity and the resources,” Johnson said.


Howard University News Service