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Study: Housing Equality Is Going in the Wrong Direction

The national racial homeownership gap widened from 2010 to 2021, new data shows. But in some areas of the country, the gap has closed.


Housing equality worsened in the decade since the Great Recession, a new analysis(link is external) shows, lending greater urgency to the commitment REALTORS® make to uphold fair housing laws. The national homeownership gap between Blacks and Whites widened by 1.5 percentage points from 2010 to 2021, according to Today’s Homeowner. That’s a glaring sign that the full promise of the 55-year-old Fair Housing Act has yet to be realized, researchers say.

The Black homeownership rate of 43%—versus 72% for Whites—is roughly the same as it was 50 years ago, according to National Association of REALTORS® data. NAR will be releasing an update to its report, “A Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America,” later this month. (View the 2022 report, which details homeownership trends, mortgage market, and affordability broken down by race and home buyer demographics.)

Though incidents of housing discrimination are lower today, the legacy of racist policies has held back Black families for generations, explains NAR Vice President of Policy Advocacy Bryan Greene. “Even where discrimination poses no barrier, Black would-be home buyers, on average, have less family wealth, lower income, and more debt due to past redlining, generations of outright exclusion from the housing market and other economic deprivation,” he says. “If you gaze into that yawning homeownership gap, you’re seeing a century or more of wealth deprivation. Today, this legacy means a Black buyer is less able to raise the funds for a down payment, and their credit profiles are strained.”

The racial homeownership gap in some states has widened nearly 10 times larger than the national trend, including in Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire, New Mexico, and Vermont, according to the study from Today’s Homeowner. “The national gap between Black and White homeownership rates is an important gauge of how we, as a country, have progressed toward the goals of equitable access to homeownership,” the study notes. “By that measure, we have backtracked in terms of equality between Black and White families.”

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