Since the 2008 recession, the racial wealth gap for Black households in the U.S. has grown 11 percent. But data from real estate company Zillow suggests that a modest increase in Black homeownership is on track to add half a trillion in wealth over 10 years.
Between Q1 2019 and Q1 2020, the Black homeownership rate grew one percentage point, while the white ownership rate remained flat over the same period. If this pace holds, Black homeownership rates could cut the $3 trillion racial wealth gap nearly in half over the next decade.
Housing disparities account for more than one-third of the Black racial wealth deficit, a total of $1.18 trillion, but white homeownership rates and value continue to far out-pace the rates among Black households.
“This faster appreciation among Black-owned homes narrowed the overall home value gap from 16.7 percent to 15.9 percent—the opposite of what happened during the last recession,” the data report said.
Homeownership and appreciation values are on track to add $500 billion to grow national Black wealth from $931 billion to $1.46 trillion by 2031. The study highlighted there are several trajectories that could play out over the next 10 years.
At best, Black home values grow 15 percent faster with ownership rates one and a half times higher than white households. At worse, Black home values grow five percent slower, with ownership rates falling half a percent. The likeliest scenario is somewhere in between.
The middle ground for creating wealth would mean Black home value growing five percent faster, and rates of ownership increasing by half a percent. This would still make for painfully slow progress.
“At that rate, it would take until 2183 to reach housing parity. No one alive today, or their children, would see an America with racial housing equality,” Treh Manhertz, the author of the study, said in the report.
Covid-19 has disproportionately impacted the Black community, inequitable lending standards and exclusionary zoning rules are also not in favor of the Black buyer. Eeking out a recovery and a reversal of practices that have stalled Black homeownership could plot a path forward.
“Recent strong gains in Black homeownership could be the beginning of a long-term trend,”, Manhertz said. “But it seems unlikely that Black renters will be in as strong a position to buy a home going forward relative to other groups.”
Organizations like the National Community Reinvestment Coalition are calling for a sharp uptake in African American homeownership, which currently stands at 42 percent. The organization has outlined a goal of 60 percent ownership by 2040, at that rate Black households would reach housing parity with white households by 2093.
But as a generation activates around racial equity, millennials headed into retirement could live to see Black housing reach parity.
“In the most optimistic scenario, the timeline for housing equality is moved up significantly to 2066,” Manhertz said. “Black millennials could…finally pass on some real wealth to the next generation.”