The American Dream? or The American Nightmare!
The continuing disparities in home ownership in the United States may best illustrate some of the inequities faced by communities of color.
"Less than half of black families (41 percent) and Hispanic families (45 percent) live in owner-occupied housing, as of 2014. For white families, that figure is 71 percent."
Home ownership helps families accumulate wealth and take advantage of sizable tax savings. By contrast, being forced into the rental market can set off a domino effect of events that then make it more difficult to exit from poverty. Hence the millions turning to last resorts of living in RV's and Sidewalk Tent Cities.
Roughly 1 in 6 black and Hispanic households spend more than 50 percent of their income on housing, leaving them with fewer resources to devote to their health care and other basic needs.
This fundamental disparity can be traced back to the home-mortgage expansion that accompanied President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal,” which was enacted some 80 years ago. Families of color were, in effect, excluded from receiving these mortgages. While white families took advantage of them and prospered, other families were left behind and are still trying to catch up.
“We typically look to policy as a vehicle for equalizing,” said David Grusky, a professor of sociology and director of the Center on Poverty and Inequality. “But here our policy has fallen short by that standard. The very policies designed to be equalizing, like the commitment to making mortgages widely available, in fact worked to introduce inequalities.”
The persisting earnings gap has made it even more difficult for African Americans and Hispanics to catch up. In 2010, median earnings for black males were 32 percent lower than median earnings for their white counterparts. The earnings gap between white and Hispanic men grew from 29 to 42 percent between 1970 and 2010.
The earnings gap between black and white males has narrowed by only 7 percentage points in four decades.
The deck is stacked against blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans because they are dealt, an immediate “one-two punch” at the very moment of birth. They are not just more likely to be born into families with less wealth, education and income, but they are also more likely to live in poor neighborhoods where high-quality schools are more difficult to find, crime is high and other amenities are unavailable.
Simply equalizing starting conditions wouldn’t eliminate racial and ethnic inequalities, but would at least help reduce them. It is not enough to equalize starting conditions because blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans are exposed later in their life to “educational, labor market and criminal justice institutions riddled with discriminatory practices.”
“It is nonetheless especially attractive to cut off at the source those processes of cumulative advantage and disadvantage that convert smaller differences early in life to larger ones in adulthood.”
“A distinctly American commitment,” said Grusky, “is that, when the race begins, everyone should be lined up at the same starting place.''
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HPP CARES CDE's accomplishments these past few years have been significant and all-encompassing; striving to advocate under the National Coalition for Equities’ umbrella to maintain a powerful community voice among the Federal and State regulators and major private sector corporations to address public policy issues, and to focus on the wealth & income inequality affecting affordable homeownership and small business growth. With the NCFE, HPP CARES CDE’s outreach efforts have led to an increase in corporate social responsibility and consumer protection. We have been able to reach more people, collaborate with more companies, meet with more regulators, all in the name of helping deserving individuals become sustainable homebuyers, successful small business owners, protected consumers and empowering California communities. HPP CARES CDE is at the forefront of helping people of color become partners in our mission to reduce income and wealth inequality and build stronger futures for all minority groups.