Skip to main content
Building_ShermanPark
The Avenue

Discriminatory housing practices are leading to the devaluation of Black Americans

Editor's Note:

This is part of a video series in which Brookings experts highlight race-based disparities or discrimination in public policy. Visit Race in American Public Policy for more videos in this series and related research from Brookings experts.

Housing is just one area where Black Americans suffer from discriminatory public policies. Throughout the United States, homes in Black neighborhoods are priced around 23 percent less than those in white neighborhoods. That is a difference of nearly $50,000 per home which totals to about $156 billion in lost assets.

There is nothing wrong with Black people that ending racism can’t solve. We must work to overcome these inequalities by countering the policy-based devaluation of the Black community.

How we value black things is really a reflection of how we value Black people.

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW

  • The assertion that the decline of Black communities is caused by Black people themselves has been touted by the Trump administration and elected officials. In reality, the financial assets Black people could use to uplift themselves are taken from them through racism.
  • My research examining home prices in communities where the share of the Black population was 50 percent or greater, versus a share of 1 percent or less, revealed homes in Black neighborhoods were priced at 23 percent less nationally—about $48,00 per home—than those in white neighborhoods. The study controlled for various factors typically understood to impact housing prices such as crime, education, and structural characteristics.
  • This disparity amounts to a cumulative total of about $156 billion in lost assets, nearly double the cost of the opioid crisis. It’s an amount large enough to have funded 8.8 million four-year degrees and replace the water pipes in Flint, Michigan close to three thousand times.
  • Such price differences would never have occurred if not for segregation, redlining, and legal housing discrimination which were baked into law because of racist rhetoric and beliefs about Black people.
  • How Black things are valued reflects the way Black people are regarded in the U.S. Today, this is reflected through the devaluation of entities such as school boards, leadership in municipalities, and homes.
  • There is nothing wrong with Black people that ending racism cannot solve. If we really want to address inequalities, we should not attack people but instead address the real devaluation of people through policy.

READ MORE

The devaluation of assets in black neighborhoods

America’s formerly redlined neighborhoods have changed, and so must solutions to rectify them

Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Property in America’s Black Cities

Five-star reviews, one-star profits: The devaluation of businesses in Black communities

Racism is not a distraction; It’s policy

Recognizing majority-black cities, when their existence is being questioned

Get daily updates from Brookings