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The Widening Racial Homeownership Gap

Stephen Leifer - Monday, August 12, 2019

by Seth Welborn


Data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that black homeownership has fallen to 40.6% as of Q2 2019. Bloomberg reports that this is the lowest rate since around 1970, and rates for all other minority groups were down as well.

According to Bloomberg, the gap between white and black and white homeowners has increased, driven in part by rising starter home prices, pushing many renters out of the market. The homeownership rate for all Americans fell in Q2 2019 to the lowest rate since 2017, while the number of new homeowner households grew by only 585,000, a third of the year-earlier level and the fewest since 2006.

“The trends in the homeownership rate reflect a broader racial chasm in who is able to acquire the American dream,” Ralph McLaughlin, Deputy Chief Economist at CoreLogic Inc., said in an interview with Bloomberg. “Black homeowners are much more rare today than any time in the last 50 years.”

According to a NeighborWorks America survey, the road to ownership is particularly fraught with hardships for minority communities. The belief that they lacked the financial planning skills and knowledge was a key factor that's keeping these communities (especially African Americans and Hispanics) away from homeownership. "As a result, the gap between homeownership and renting still exceeds the overall national average," the survey said.

The Survey indicated that minorities are more focused on paying bills and everyday expenses than buying a home. Twenty-one percent of black adults said their most important financial goal for 2019 was to pay bills and everyday expenses, with 6% saving for a home as their No. 1 financial goal. Among Hispanics, 20% said paying down credit card debt was their top financial goal for 2019 with merely 8% of this demographic ranking saving for a down payment to buy a home as most important.

While 30% of those surveyed said they are not confident in their ability to withstand a financial emergency, 34% of black and Hispanic adults expressed this lack of confidence, the survey found.


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