The sustained gap in homeownership between black and white Americans has been studied, quantified, and discussed thoroughly in recent years, particularly because the gap plays an enormous role in suppressing intergenerational wealth building and economic mobility. There is no debate about the gravity of the problem:
- Since 2001, the black homeownership rate has seen the most dramatic drop of any racial or ethnic group, declining 5 percent compared with a 1 percent decline for white families and with increases for Hispanic families.
- The homeownership rate of black millennials stands at 13 percent today compared with 37 percent for white millennials.
- In the past 15 years, black homeownership rates have declined to levels not seen since the 1960s, when private race-based discrimination was legal.
Historically, homeownership has been the best way to build wealth and remains, for most households, more financially beneficial than renting. Accordingly, the increasing and sustained loss of access to this major wealth-building tool makes it harder for black Americans to close the wealth gap.
How do we translate what we know into what we do?
In other words, how can we reduce these gaps?
At the end of 2018, thanks to a generous planning grant from the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, we convened a group of diverse stakeholders to discuss how to move from evidence toward action. These housing industry leaders identified data and knowledge gaps and explored areas ripe for policy intervention at both the national and local level.
Five strategic priorities emerged from the discussion.