Black homeownership in RI is as low as it was in the 1960s

Sunday 02 January 2022

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Soaring house prices are quickly creating wealth for Rhode Island homeowners and increasingly lagging non-homeowners.

The percentage of blacks who own a home in Rhode Island is now as low as it was in the early 1960s.

A Rhode Island resident calling for action to improve black homeownership rates is not your usual advocate.


Nelson Taylor of Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International, one of the state’s leading high-end real estate groups, calls attention to the problem and calls for change.

“It’s amazing to me that black homeownership is at an all-time low. it is shameful. You know systemic racism is a factor. They never had the same opportunities as white Americans, ”Taylor said on GoLocal LIVE.

In Rhode Island, only 6% of homes are owned by black households. And becoming a new owner is getting harder and harder as home prices continue to rise. The median price of a single-family home is now $ 375,000 in Rhode Island.

The numbers are not improving despite the perception that economic opportunities for blacks have improved over the past 60 years.

Homeownership for blacks was at the same level as before the federal Civil Rights Act was passed, redlining was rife, and housing rights laws were non-existent.

“In fact, over the past 15 years, black homeownership has experienced the most dramatic decline of any racial or ethnic group, and the black homeownership rate in 2019 is fell to almost as low as it was when discrimination was legal, ”according to the National Coalition for Community Reinvestment (NCRC).

Homeownership generates wealth

In 2019, homeowners in the United States had a median net worth of $ 255,000, while renters had a net worth of just $ 6,300. That’s a 40-fold difference between the two groups, according to the Survey of Consumer Finances, released in September 2020 by the Federal Reserve.

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Nationally and locally – Black home ownership is on the decline

In the second quarter of 2019, the black homeownership rate fell to 40.6%, down seven percentage points from about a decade earlier. It now hovers closer to 44%, while White’s possession rate is much higher (around 74%).

Home ownership by blacks has declined significantly in recent years. The rate rose from 41.9% in 1995 to 49.4% in 2004, an increase of 7.5 percentage points, but never in history have 50% of black households owned a home.

By comparison, 74% of white households own a home.

The NCRC is calling for a 20-year effort to push the percentage of black households that own a home to 60%.

Need to build the number of black real estate agents

“The black community was hit very hard in the 2008 crash – another reminder that it potentially cannot be trusted in the real estate world, but as we know real estate is the great equalizer. Real estate is one of the greatest factors in personal and community stability and it is also one of the greatest factors in generational wealth creation, ”said Taylor.

He says the lack of black real estate agents is a major problem and calls for change.

“Black people need more professionals in the housing world that they can trust. The number of black real estate agents in this country as a percentage is almost less than half the percentage of black people in this country,” said Taylor.

Taylor said real estate companies need to push to recruit and train more black people to join the ranks of companies like his and hopes other real estate companies will join them and work to improve the numbers.

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