4 Things You May Not Know About Housing and Race

April 16, 2014

“When we talk about race… there’s a divide when it comes to home ownership and the creation of wealth,” said Mark Hugo Lopez, director of Hispanic research at the Pew Research Center. With US economic inequality at an all-time high, the issue of housing as it relates to racial disparity was recently discussed during a panel at the 2014 State of Race Symposium at the Newseum in Washington, DC. Presented by the Aspen Institute Communications and Society Program in association with the Comcast Corporation, the annual Symposium explores the issues and opportunities for people of color.

“Members of Congress, policymakers are rewriting the rules right now, setting the groundwork for the next 50 years of what housing [and] access to home ownership is going to look like,” said Symposium panelist Lisa Hasegawa, executive director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development. “And we’re not talking about it publicly as much as we should.”

Here are four key points from the discussion that describe housing and race in the US since the recession.

  • From housing boom to bust, the recession hurt minorities the most: Home ownership rates peaked for Latinos and African Americans in 2006, but started declining a year later and has continued to drop since then, said Lopez. In the video below, Lopez explains the factors contributing to this decline and the overall state of race when it comes to housing.

  • Housing applications and approval rates for African Americans have dropped 10 percentage points since the recession: “It’s been shown time and time again that whites of lower income will be given a mortgage that blacks of higher income will be denied, and that’s been the case for decades now,” said panelist Tanner Colby, author of “Some of My Best Friends Are Black: The Strange Story of Integration in America.” “I wouldn’t have my apartment if I weren’t a white person,” Colby said. Below, in contrast to the difficulties many face in buying a home, Colby describes the easiness he and his wife experienced in purchasing their residence.

  • Latinos are among the most segregated ethnic groups in the US: “There’s some evidence that people choose to self-segregate,” said Lopez. Latinos rank high in this category, often choosing where to live based on schools, religious institutions, and the prevalence of other Latinos in the area. Watch Lopez and Hasegawa explain why some choose to do this, and the role community development corporations (CDCs) have played in strengthening multiracial relationships across neighborhoods.

  • The “model minority” myth for Asian Americans: It’s true that Asian Americans tend to qualify for more home loans compared with other minority groups. But they too were severely affected by the housing bust. “There’s over 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders living in poverty today, and it was one of the largest increases in the wake of the recession,” Hasegawa said. Watch Hasegawa break down how subgroups within the Asian American community have fared since the recession, and the factors that have contributed to both their economic successes and failures.

Video of the three Symposium panels on race and violence, housing, and politics is here.