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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.

Go deeper

Jan 21, 2021 - Health

Racial disparities in mortality aren't improving

Racial disparities in mortality haven't budged, despite an increasing awareness of the problem and a focus on social determinants of health, according to a new report published in JAMA.

The big picture: Black mortality remains far higher than white mortality in America's 30 largest cities, according to the study.

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Jan 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

President Biden faces a deeply broken America

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

As President Biden begins his term in office today, he'll be tasked with leading a country beset with deep, long-term problems.

Why it matters: Though the pandemic has made them worse, existential challenges around inequality, social alienation and political division in the U.S. were in place well before SARS-CoV-2 arrived on American shores. The country's future will depend in large part on whether the choices made over the next four years can flatten the curve of American decline.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.