It was a startling statement: “Net worth of white households in D.C. region is 81 times that of black households.” The data was from a report issued by the Urban Institute and several partners called “The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital” (find it at urban.org). Much of the report focused on home ownership, because much of Americans’ net worth (the value of their assets, minus their debt) is tied up in their homes. ­

HOUSE OWNERSHIP

The report showed that African Americans in the Washington region are less likely to own homes than whites.

WHITES

78%

BLACKS

58%

HOME VALUES

If African Americans do own homes, those homes are worth less than whites’ homes ...

WHITES

$375,000

BLACKS

$250,000

HOMEOWNERS WITH MORTGAGE DEBT

... and are more likely to be mortgaged than whites’ homes.

WHITES

74%

BLACKS

82%

Homeowners with

high-school diploma

or less

Perhaps most tellingly, home ownership rates do not correlate with education. Historic barriers — such as restrictive real estate covenants, discriminatory lending policies and urban renewal programs that wiped out inner-city neighborhoods — have prevented blacks from attaining the same level of home ownership as whites, even when they share the same educational level.

WHITES

81%

BLACKS

46%

Homeowners with

bachelor’s degree

or higher

WHITES

76%

BLACKS

61%

Americans are told that “if you study hard, you work hard, you’ll be able to accumulate income that you save, and that will turn into wealth,” says Darrick Hamilton, an urban policy professor at the New School, one of the institutions that pitched in on the report. “When we look across racial lines, we see that’s not necessarily true.”

It was a startling statement: “Net worth of white households in D.C. region is 81 times that of black households.” The data was from a report issued by the Urban Institute and several partners called “The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital” (find it at urban.org). Much of the report focused on home ownership, because much of Americans’ net worth (the value of their assets, minus their debt) is tied up in their homes. ­

WHITES

BLACKS

Home

The report showed that

A

frican

A

mericans in the Washington

78%

58%

ownership

region are less likely to own homes than whites.

$375,000

Home

I

f

A

frican

A

mericans do own homes, those homes are worth

$250,000

values

less than whites’ homes ...

Homeowners

with

... and are more likely to be mortgaged than whites’ homes.

74%

82%

mortgage

debt

Perhaps most tellingly, home ownership rates do not correlate

with education.

H

istoric barriers — such as restrictive real

Homeowners

estate covenants, discriminatory lending policies and urban

with

renewal programs that wiped out inner-city neighborhoods

81%

46%

high-school

— have prevented blacks from attaining the same level of

diploma

home ownership as whites, even when they share the same

or less

educational level.

Americans are told that “if you study hard, you work

hard, you’ll be able to accumulate income that you

Homeowners

save, and that will turn into wealth,” says Darrick

with

Hamilton, an urban policy professor at the New

bachelor’s

76%

61%

degree

School, one of the institutions that pitched in on the

or higher

report. “When we look

across

racial lines, we see

that’s not necessarily true.”