Dec 22, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Former HUD secretary Julián Castro says homeownership can help close wealth gaps in America

Axios' Aja Whitaker-Moore (L) and former Sec. Julián Castro (R). Photo courtesy of Axios Events
Axios' Aja Whitaker-Moore (L) and former Sec. Julián Castro (R). Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Homeownership disparity is one of the root causes of wealth gaps between white people and people of color in America, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro said at an Axios Event aired Tuesday.

Why it matters: The homeownership gap between Black and white Americans is worse today than when race-based housing laws and policies were in effect decades ago. The Census Bureau reports that 42% of Black Americans and 61% of Hispanic Americans own a home — but for whites, it's 72%.

  • Non-white Americans have a harder time financing a home, pay higher interest rates on home loans and are the primary targets of predatory lenders.

What they're saying: "Well, to me, homeownership is so important because for most Americans, that makes up the bulk of their wealth. And that's especially true for Black Americans and people of color..." Castro said.

  • "And when you compare Black wealth and white wealth or Latino wealth and white wealth in this country, I mean, there's no comparison. But homeownership is one way that you can help to close that gap and provide more stability for a family."
  • He also said that the U.S. needs to deal with the rental affordability crisis as well, which disproportionally impacts people of color.

Between the lines: Jonathan Reckford, CEO for Habitat for Humanity International, also said at the Axios Event that supply is a major barrier to affordable housing, including for people of color.

  • "We need way more housing that's affordable for low and moderate-income families. And we had a housing crisis before the pandemic and it's only been exacerbated by COVID," Reckford said.

What to watch: Castro, who served in the Obama administration, says he believes President-elect Biden's HUD nomination and plans for housing as a step in the right direction.

  • "Well, I was happy to see the nomination of Rep. Marcia Fudge to become secretary of HUD... I think she'll be an effective leader there," Castro said.
  • "President-elect Biden has put forward a $640B plan over 10 years to make big investments. That includes trying to make sure that everybody has fair housing opportunity right away," he added.

Go deeper: Race and housing in America

Watch the full event here.

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