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During a wide-ranging interview for "Axios on HBO," I asked Housing and Urban Development Secretary Marcia Fudge why Black homeownership rates have gone down, while rates for Asians and Hispanics have gone up.

The big picture: "Part of our problem is that we have never totally enforced the Fair Housing Act," Fudge told me during a visit to her native Cleveland.

The bottom line: "That is why we are doing things like homeownership assistance, why we're addressing the student loan issue, why we're looking at how credit is distributed. For people of color, especially Black people, homeownership is wealth. It is not only wealth to us, but it is generational wealth."

What's next: One solution is a HUD plan, outlined in a Wall Street Journal article, that aims to help prospective home buyers by relaxing the calculation on their qualification for government-backed loans.

  • "Who has student debt?" Fudge said. "Poor people, Black people, brown people. We're the people who carry the most debt. And so the system's already skewed toward us not being creditworthy."

Fudge gave the example of a person who makes about $50,000 a year.

  • "If they want to purchase a home — maybe $200,000 or in that ballpark — [if] they have $75,000 worth of student debt, they don't qualify," she said. "Once we make the adjustments we're going to make, that same person will qualify."
  • She said that this hypothetical person would "qualify at a rate that gives them an opportunity to go into a home with some equity, but also be so vested in that home that they can afford to stay in that home."

Go deeper: The stark racial gap in homeownership

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Go deeper

Juneteenth forces U.S. to confront lasting impact of slavery economy

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Corbis, Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Juneteenth, a once-obscure commemoration of emancipation of enslaved people in Texas, has transformed into an annual reminder about how slavery robbed Black Americans of generational wealth.

Why it matters: That lack of generational wealth still denies Black families the economic security that many white families take for granted.

The separate and unequal paths in business

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

When a bank turned down George Johnson for a business loan, he got creative. He returned and told the bank he needed $250 to take his wife on a vacation — and was approved. Then he invested the cash in his business, which became the first Black enterprise to trade on the American Stock Exchange.

Why it matters: The highways to success in the U.S. market economy — in entrepreneurship, corporate leadership and wealth creation — are often punctuated with roadblocks and winding detours for people of color.

Updated 26 mins ago - Health

CDC: Vaccinated people in COVID hotspots should resume wearing masks

CDC director Rochelle Walensky and top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci at a Senate HELP committee hearing. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite-Pool/Getty Images

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued updated guidance on Tuesday recommending that vaccinated people wear masks in indoor, public settings if they are in parts of the U.S. with substantial to high transmission, among other circumstances.

Why it matters: The guidance, a reversal from recommendations made two months ago, comes as the Delta variant continues to drive up case rates across the country. Millions of people in the U.S. — either by choice or who are ineligible — remain unvaccinated and at risk of serious infection.

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