Posts Tagged ‘Home Ownership’

Home ownership and middle-class black people

October 1, 2015

I sometimes hear white friends wonder why so few poor native-born African Americans have been able to rise into the middle class, compared to poor immigrants.  Senator Elizabeth Warren, in a speech last Sunday, said that one reason is the policies of the federal government on home ownership.

For most middle class families in America, buying a home is the number one way to build wealth. 

It’s a retirement plan — pay off the house and live on Social Security.  

An investment option — mortgage the house to start a business.

Senator Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren

It’s a way to help the kids get through college, a safety net if someone gets really sick, and, if all goes well and Grandma and Grandpa can hang on to the house until they die, it’s a way to give the next generation a boost — extra money to move the family up the ladder.

For much of the 20th Century, that’s how it worked for generation after generation of white Americans — but not black Americans. 

Entire legal structures were created to prevent African Americans from building economic security through home ownership.  Legally-enforced segregation.  Restrictive deeds.  Redlining.  Land contracts.

Coming out of the Great Depression, America built a middle class, but systematic discrimination kept most African-American families from being part of it.