Jun 24, 2022 - Real Estate

D.C.'s Black homeownership gap continues to grow

Illustration of a house broken into mismatched puzzle pieces.
Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

D.C.’s Black population continues to decrease, and over the last ten years the number of Black homeowners has trended downward. 

Why it matters: Our once Chocolate City is now caramel at best, and opportunities for creating equity and generational wealth through homeownership are harder to come by for Black residents.

By the numbers: In D.C., 34% of homeowners are Black, compared to 49% percent of white residents, according to the mayor’s office.

  • Census data shows that the number of Black D.C. homeowners went from roughly 46,000 in 2010 to 42,400 in 2019. That’s an 8% decrease.

The homeownership gap can have generational impacts. Urban Institute found that a child is 8.4% more likely to own a home if their parents are homeowners.

Zoom out: Some D.C. suburbs, specifically Prince George’s County, have high concentrations of wealthy Black homeowners. Brookings Metro fellow Tracy Hadden Loh says “exclusion from other suburbs” is one of the reasons Black homeowners historically found their way to PG County.

Between the lines: There are some factors that foster Black homeownership in our region. For example, the Washington area has more Black-owned businesses than other parts of the country. 

  • “This is like a positive and self-reinforcing cycle in terms of creating Black wealth,” Loh says of homeownership supporting entrepreneurship, and vice versa.

Go deeper: Where homeownership by people of color thrives.

What to watch: Millennials are the primary driver of Black homeownership nationwide, Realtor.com reports. Though cost is still a major barrier for younger buyers, millennials of all races make up 43% of homeowners, more than any other generation in the U.S.

Yes, but: Black millennials face a different set of challenges than their parents. 

  • “There are millions of Black and brown millennials who are creditworthy, who are pre-qualified, who would buy homes, except there is no inventory in the most desirable locations,” Loh says. “And so they are being excluded by a different process.” 

What’s next: Mayor Bowser’s new Strike Force initiative will help determine how to use the city’s $10 million Black Homeownership Fund. It’s led by housing experts and community leaders who will give the mayor recommendations for increasing the number of D.C.’s Black homeowners by 2030. 

Context: Despite spending hundreds of millions on affordable housing, the mayor has been accused of not using those dollars effectively.

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