27 Ways Racism and White Supremacy Impact Housing

Updated: 5 days ago

Today is a celebration of emancipation in the United States. Recognizing Juneteenth widely is a start in a long road to dismantling the systemic racism that has plagued this country for over 400 years. We cannot stop at a holiday. This is another step in our fight toward anti-racism.

We invite you to learn more about the extent of white supremacy and the work that needs to be done to eradicate it and its effects in housing. The fight continues tomorrow. #BlackLivesMatter

A Black man stands near a wall looking in the distance while holding an American flag over his shoulder. The text on the image says, "27 Ways Racism and White Supremacy Impact Housing"
27 Ways Racism and White Supremacy Impact Housing

After the murder of George Floyd, people around the world are examining the breadth of white supremacy. It extends into our society, purposefully ingrained in every facet of our government, laws, education, financial institutions, policing, housing, and more. The roots of white supremacy, which are responsible for the housing crisis, are the same roots that feed the oppression dealt by police. We all experience and navigate this framework, but it is specifically designed to set up roadblocks that create systemic disadvantages for Black people. The question is, how can we better identify and eradicate them?

Despite our best-intentioned efforts to try and not partake in or contribute to discriminatory housing practices, racism in housing impacts our society in more ways than many of us realize. Its history is long and its ability to oppress is upheld by continuous reiterations of racist rules and regulations. In order to fight against it, we must be able to understand and see it. So, we are highlighting 27 ways that racism exists in housing and its impact. 

1. Redlining — Physical maps of cities were drawn on to show where banks should finance loans. Areas were high risk if they included higher numbers of non-white families, and were drawn in red. 

2. Modern Day Redlining — Home buyers in areas that have a majority of people of color are given smaller loans to purchase housing than home buyers in white areas. 

3. Restrictive Covenants — Property owners would write into their house deeds that the property could only be sold to white people. While generally not enforced, this language still exists in deeds to this day.

4. 1940s and 1950s Federal Laws Mandating Segregation — The federal government stepped in to destroy mixed-race neighborhoods, creating segregated living, and then invested in suburbs, where deed restrictions and homeowners associations required white-only home-buyers.

5. Disinvestment in Public Housing/Public Housing Cuts — From the 1930s–1960s, affordable housing was being produced and funded by the federal government, yet there were no laws prohibiting that housing be provided to whites only. When white families were moved out of this housing and it was made available for Black families, it was typically in poor condition. During this time the federal government turned to private industry to build affordable housing and there was little incentive for developers and owners to revitalize the properties. 

6. Urban Renewal — From 1949–1960s the urban renewal policy displaced more than a million people by using federal money to “clean up” cities — which involved targeting poor people and people of color — due to earlier racist policies like redlining, which led to divestment, it was Black and brown neighborhoods that were demolished to create projects that largely benefited well-to-do white people. Although displaced people were supposed to be compensated, the funds were typically used to destroy their housing and never distributed. In total, 363,637 acres of land were razed as part of urban renewal projects in the U.S.

7. Predatory Inclusion — After redlining ended in the 1960s, programs that were meant to open real estate opportunities for Black homeowners turned into predatory programs from private financial industries. The homes that were made available were falsely approved for sale when they were not up to safety code, leaving new Black homeowners with mortgages that were backed by the federal government but in homes that were unlivable — meaning the lenders still made money while Black families were without safe housing.

8. Predatory Loans and Subprime Lending — Racism in financial institutions played a huge role in the market crash. From 1993 to 2000, subprime mortgages to people of color increased from 2% to 18%! The discriminatory acts of banks facilitated the disaster because of their overt racism. Banks across the country in the 2000s were routinely charging people of color higher interest rates than equally qualified white applicants. Black customers were two to eight times more likely to be given subprime loans in comparison to similar white borrowers.

9. Foreclosure Crisis — During the 2008 recession, Black Americans were hit the hardest. Studies have shown that Black households disproportionately were given loans with high-interest rates, and due to the financial collapse lost significant portions of their overall wealth, which they have not recovered.