In 2004, African American homeownership peaked at nearly 50 percent. The rate has declined every year since. In 2017, the rate was 43 percent, cancelling out all gains since the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968.
Despite strong economic growth and rising homeownership rates among Asian Americans, Latinxs, and whites, per Harvard University Joint Center for Housing Studies' data. At the national level, the homeownership rate was 63.9 percent in 2017. White homeownership hit 72.9 percent, up seven basis points annually. The Hispanic homeownership rate grew to 46.2 percent, also up seven basis points, The Washington Post reports.
Chris Herbert, JCHS managing director, says, “We’ve made progress in leveling the playing field for minority homeownership, but the landscape is still more challenging for African Americans.” The Department of Housing and Urban Development has been criticized for rolling back Obama-era fair housing policies, including the suspension of a rule requiring communities that receive billions of dollars in federal aid to desegregate, or risk losing aid dollars.
Vanessa Bulnes and her husband, Richard, bought their house on 104th Avenue in East Oakland, Calif., in 1992. The modest two-bedroom property is where they lived for 20 years, raising three children, and where Vanessa made a living running an in-home day-care center. Neighbors in the mostly African American community often saw her planting vegetables in the backyard, with her kids in tow. After Richard had a stroke in 2008, reducing the couple to a single income, they fell behind on their mortgage and eventually lost their home to foreclosure. A years-long legal effort to refinance the loan on the property failed, and in 2012, the couple were forced to move into a nearby rental home, where they live today.