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Reproduced from Urban Institute; Chart: Axios Visuals

A new study from Redfin finds that 44% of Black families owned their own home as of the first quarter of this year compared to 73.7% of white families.

Between the lines: Many have suggested that a key to closing the racial wealth gap between Black and white Americans is to encourage more Black families to own homes, but data shows that would be woefully insufficient.

  • This disparity that rises as high as 50 percentage points at its peak in Minneapolis where 75% of white families own their homes compared to 25% of Black families.
  • "[S]imply advocating the purchase of a new home will not overcome the existing gap produced by national policies," a study from the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity finds.

Details: "Rather than homeownership creating wealth, having family wealth in the first place leads to homeownership, particularly high equity homeownership," the study notes.

  • This is borne out in the fact that Black homeowners in the U.S. on average start with much less wealth, purchase lower-priced houses and grow less value in their homes, no matter their age or income level, compared to white homeowners.

How we got here: Much of this can be traced back to U.S. homeownership history — white families were able to benefit from federal housing programs and secure mortgages for generations while Black families were often denied bank loans outright or had to accept predatory loans at extreme interest rates.

  • This allowed white families to pass down houses that had accumulated increased value to their children producing immediate wealth.
  • "[W]ithout sufficient wealth in the first place, households have limited means to invest in homeownership," the DuBois study says. "Wealth, after all, begets more wealth."

By the numbers: Data from the University of Michigan show 87% of white homeowners bought their first homes before age 35, compared with 53% of black homeowners.

  • The Urban Institute notes "the inflation-adjusted average housing wealth at age 60 or 61 for white households was $124,000, compared with $54,000 for Black households."
  • "The average first home purchased by Black homebuyers is valued at $127,000, compared with $139,000 for white homebuyers, yet Black homebuyers, on average, have higher mortgage debt ($90,000) than white homebuyers ($75,000)."
  • "Surprisingly and notably, the difference in mortgage debt ($15,000) is larger than the difference in the home value ($12,000)."

The last word: A 2019 study by the Urban Institute found that while differences in income, credit score, marital status, and education after controlling for the level of racial segregation, housing supply, and housing affordability explained most of the homeownership gap, 17% of the difference "remains unexplained" by any of those factors.

Go deeper

Government forbearance programs are keeping homeowners afloat

Reproduced from National Multifamily Housing Council; Chart: Axios Visuals

While headlines caution that 6 million people fell behind on their rent or mortgages last month, that number includes many who are supported by government forbearance programs, meaning they face no penalty for missing payments.

Zoom in: The Mortgage Bankers Association found that 3.4 million mortgage payments were missed in September, but the group's own data also show 3.4 million homeowners were enrolled in federal forbearance programs that month.

Judge nixes Gulf of Mexico oil leases in climate-focused ruling

Tug boats prepare to tow the semi-submersible drilling platform Noble Danny Adkins through the Port Aransas Channel into the Gulf of Mexico on December 12, 2020 in Port Aransas, Texas. Photo: Tom Pennington/Getty Images

A federal judge on Thursday canceled the Biden administration's late 2021 sale of new oil-and-gas drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico.

Why it matters: The ruling that the greenhouse gas emissions analysis by the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was insufficient is a win for green groups that challenged the decision, as they seek to curb fossil fuel production.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Credit: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.