Carey Park
Black homeowners gained about 10 percent greater equity value than white homeowners from 2012 to 2017, according to a new report from ANDP. Credit: David Pendered

By David Pendered

Almost lost in the discussion of affordable housing is the precipitous decline of black homebuyers and black homeownership. At a summit Wednesday at the Carter Center, housing specialists are to examine the roots of the problem and potential policy solutions.

Carey Park
Black homeowners gained about 10 percent greater equity value than white homeowners from 2012 to 2017, according to a new report from ANDP. Credit: David Pendered

And there are policy solutions, according to a just-released report by Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnerships, Inc., Creating Homeownership & Economic Opportunity. ANDP is presenting the summit, in collaboration with Urban Institute, National Association of Real Estate Brokers and NeighborWorks America.

For starters, black homebuyers have achieved a bigger bounce in value than white homebuyers, according to ANDP’s report:

  • “[F]rom 2012 to 2017, black homeowners experienced an average of 38.2 percent in home value appreciation compared to 29.9 percent for whites, with an average real gain in 2017 dollars of $65,000 per black homeowner.”

Barriers to black homebuyers don’t have to include the size of a downpayment:

  • “In the Atlanta metro area, 44 percent of black households are eligible for [down payment assistance] and could receive an average DPA of $8,773 should they utilize DPA programs (Urban Institute, 2018).”

Children benefit from residing in a residence owned by their parent or guardian, given that the children are likely to move less frequently than from a rental home, according to research from Pew Charitable Trust in a 2013 report:

Grove Park, children
Children benefit from the stability represented by a home owned by parents or guardian, according to a report by Pew Charitable Trust. File/Credit: Grove Park Foundation
  • “Research … suggests that home equity is directly linked to upward mobility for families and their children and can help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty for many low-income families of color. Additional research indicates that school performance suffers when children move frequently, which is more likely to be the case for families who rent than own…. This is particularly true in gentrifying neighborhoods.”

These nuggets represent beacons of hope against a horizon that has been dreary. The summit’s invitation to the program titled, Closing the Homeownership Gap in Metro Atlanta and Beyond, begins with this observation:

  • “The racial wealth gap has been growing over the past five decades and has reached the point where white households hold more than ten times the wealth of black households. The homeownership gap between black and white families is 30 percent.”

Another reminder of a grim past in Atlanta appears in a book that made the list of recommended reading – Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America. Rothstein has written about Atlanta’s history previously in roles including serving as a fellow of the Thurgood Marshall Institute of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

Atlanta zoning map, 1922
This “Tentative Zone Plan” from 1922 shows “Race Districts” include one marked as “Colored Dist.” File/Credit:
This “Tentative Zone Plan” from 1922 shows “Race Districts” include one marked as “Colored Dist.” File/Credit:

Rothstein’s section on Atlanta includes a report that the city’s history of segregated neighborhoods dates to 1922, when the city adopted a zoning law that created separate residential districts for black and white folks. The old Techwood Homes and landscape designer Frederick Law Olmstead, Jr. also have segregationist roots, according to Rothstein.

In addition to a look ahead at policy solutions to improve rates of black homeownership, the summit does intend to cover the past for gleanings of how the situation with black housing reached this point. In doing so, Mandy Eidson, who wrote the Creating Homeownership report and is an ANDP staffer, is to serve on a panel and be available to discuss her findings.

Eidson’s work includes a comprehensive view of multiple research papers involving black homeownership. The papers have been issued over time, and Eidson’s work pulls these distinct pieces into a single package that presents a compelling story. Some of these distinct pieces observe:

  • “The decline among black home-buyers was especially sharp in Atlanta, where their numbers were down by half and their share shrank from 28 percent to 22 percent of all buyers.” – The State of the Nation’s Housing, 2017; Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University;
  • Nationally, there were 55 percent fewer black homebuyers in 2012, compared to 2001. Black households were impacted by residential foreclosure, damaged credit and lost wealth. – Fair Housing & Racial Equity in Atlanta and the Southeast; Dan Immergluck, Georgia State, 2018.
  • The inventory of for-sale housing has fallen off a cliff in metro Atlanta. The areas affected most dramatically were suburban counties once viewed as reliable suppliers of houses deemed affordable to first-time buyers – Cherokee, Douglas, Paulding, Gwinnett and Fayette. – Regional Snapshot: Affordable Housing, June 2017; Atlanta Regional Commission.

Note to readers: “Closing the Homeownership Gap” is free and open to the public. Reservations are required and available at this website. The event is Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at The Carter Center, 453 Freedom Parkway, Atlanta, GA 30307

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written...

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