How does discrimination really affect us? - June 04, 2011

Here's how just the knowledge of housing discrimination has affected one of our clients:

"When I was looking to build my home, I wanted to be sure to find a neighborhood that had good schools, was clean and had nice features such as sports parks, open grassy areas, large homes, reputable builder and was well kept.  I found a community that has lakes, and spent much time in the area.  I decided to build a 4 br 2.5 bath home on a nice large lot.  When I discovered (after my neighbors homes were completed) that several of my neighbors are also black, and from the east coast, I thought that was nice.  However, I was concerned, and hoped the neighborhood would be and remain mostly white.  Why?  Because I know the perceptions out there.  The historic pattern is that homes (neighborhoods if you will) belonging to white people are worth more than black people, and the perception that black people will "bring down the value of your home" is pervasive.  Though I know race and color are not legitimate reasons that go into home prices, it's still a very real problem none the less."

This experience is understandable.  Let's take a look at history.  Until 1949, when Shelley v. Kraemer made the use of racially restrictive covenants unconstitutional, the Federal Housing Authority's "Underwriting Manual" openly stated that "if a neighborhood is to retain stability, it is necessary that properties shall continue to be occupied by the same social and racial classes."  Further,  "Restrictive covenants" forbade the conveyance of property to non-Whites and could be attached to the home's title.  These race "directives" remained in federal housing policy until Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act in 1968.  71% of tangible  personal wealth, comes from home ownership.  No wonder poverty and minorities are so closely tied, no wonder there are ghettos, no wonder there is a home ownership gap of whites to minorities. 

 The cost of un-fair housing for many, is tied to the very home we live in, even though our fair housing rights have not  been personally, or directly violated.