While racial segregation was seemingly addressed by the Supreme Court in 1917 and 1948, and by the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, racism undoubtedly persists today in zoning and housing laws.
When Black war veterans returned from World War II, the Federal Housing Administration did not allow them to obtain mortgages. Despite fighting — and in many cases, dying — to support the U.S. mission, Black soldiers were explicitly discriminated against because they were viewed by banks and the federal government as “higher risk” loans. In order to obtain federal funding, local developers were required to include in their codes a refusal to sell to people of color. These policies changed in the 1960s, but by then the damage had been done. The homeownership boom, spurred by the federal government to boost the economy, deliberately and unconscionably prevented Black homeownership and thus prevented generational wealth or class mobility to take place as it would for white America.
We still live with vestiges of these policies today, as accumulated wealth in real estate has appreciated and been passed from generation to generation. As importantly, many of our zoning laws that prohibit multifamily buildings, require minimum square footages or restrict the number of unrelated people per home carry on these systemic inequities and continue to segregate cities and neighborhoods based on income and race while preventing historically marginalized populations from ascending the housing ladder.
Tune in to the ARA Facebook page on December 2nd at 12:00 pm for the second installment of our virtual 'ARA's Tough Discussions: A Series on Racism & Real Estate' on Zoning & NIMBYism. We’ll be joined by panelists for a discussion on how zoning and NIMBYism (Not In My Back Yard) has impacted and continues to hinder equity & the ability to build generational wealth. while offering solutions for how the real estate industry can lead us to a more equitable society.