Black Poverty Is Rooted in Real-Estate Exploitation

One question is — or should be — central to any assessment of the state of America: Why, more than a century and a half after slavery ended, does the typical black family remain so much poorer than the typical white family?

A new study on housing in Chicago illustrates a big part of the answer: Generation after generation, the U.S. system of real-estate finance has enriched whites at the expense of blacks.

Housing has long played a crucial role in American wealth accumulation: People buy homes with federally subsidized mortgages, build up equity and pass the assets on to their children. But as recently as the 1960s, government policy excluded blacks. In a practice known as redlining, the Federal Housing Administration designated predominantly black neighborhoods as no-go zones for government-insured mortgage loans. The FHA also wouldn’t guarantee loans for new mixed-race developments: The presence of even a single black family was enough to warrant rejection.

Bloomberg