IT WAS A TIME WHEN
HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF G.I.s CAME HOME,
READY TO START FAMILIES, BUT HAD NO PLACE TO LIVE. Oliver: IN THE 1930s,
THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT CREATED THE FEDERAL HOUSING
ADMINISTRATION, WHOSE JOB IT WAS
TO PROVIDE LOANS, OR THE BACKING FOR LOANS, TO AVERAGE AMERICANS,
SO THEY COULD PURCHASE A HOME. FEDERAL PROGRAMS AND BANKS SANK MILLIONS INTO
THE HOME CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY. THEIR MESSAGE TO VETERANS — YOU CAN AFFORD A NEW HOME, BUY A NEW HOME NOW. TAX DOLLARS HELPED MAKE
THE SINGLE FAMILY HOME A MASS-PRODUCED CONSUMER ITEM. THE AMERICAN DREAM
HAD A NEW NAME — SUBURBIA. Man: WE CAME TO
LEVITTOWN AND WE FOUND A MODEL HOUSE AND WE WALKED IN
AND WE LOOKED AROUND. AND, OF COURSE,
IN THE EYES OF A YOUNG MAN WHO WAS RAISED IN THE GHETTO,
SO TO SPEAK, IT WAS AN
INTERESTING EXPERIENCE, AN INTERESTING LIFESTYLE,
SEEING ALL THE NEW MODERN CONVENIENCES. VERY FASCINATING. Narrator:
EUGENE BURNETT CAME HOME WITH ALMOST A MILLION
OTHER BLACK G.I.s. THEY HAD FOUGHT FOR THE COUNTRY IN SEGREGATED RANKS. THEY RETURNED
HOPING FOR EQUALITY AND THE AMERICAN DREAM. FOR MANY,
THAT DREAM WAS A NEW HOME FOR LITTLE MONEY DOWN, AND SOME OF THE EASIEST
CREDIT TERMS IN HISTORY. Eugene:
I WENT UP TO THE SALESMAN. WE’RE INTERESTED
IN YOUR HOME, WE’RE INTERESTED IN
BUYING ONE AND WHAT
IS THE PROCEDURE? IS THERE AN APPLICATION
TO BE FILLED OUT? SO HE LOOKED AT ME, LOOKED AROUND, AND HE SAID TO ME, HE SAYS, LISTEN, IT’S NOT ME, BUT THE OWNERS OF THIS
DEVELOPMENT HAVE NOT, AS YET, DECIDED TO SELL THESE HOMES
TO NEGROES. Narrator:
THE FHA UNDERWRITERS WARNED THAT THE PRESENCE OF EVEN ONE
OR TWO NON-WHITE FAMILIES COULD UNDERMINE
REAL ESTATE VALUES IN THE NEW SUBURBS. THESE GOVERNMENT GUIDELINES
WERE WIDELY ADOPTED BY PRIVATE INDUSTRY. RACE HAD LONG PLAYED A ROLE IN LOCAL REAL ESTATE PRACTICES. STARTING IN THE 1930s, GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS
INSTITUTIONALIZED A NATIONAL APPRAISAL SYSTEM WHERE RACE WAS AS MUCH A FACTOR
IN REAL ESTATE ASSESSMENT AS THE CONDITION
OF THE PROPERTY. USING THIS SCHEME, FEDERAL INVESTIGATORS EVALUATED 239 CITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY FOR FINANCIAL RISK. Oliver: SO THAT THOSE
COMMUNITIES THAT WERE ALL-WHITE, SUBURBAN, AND FAR AWAY FROM MINORITY AREAS, THEY RECEIVED
THE HIGHEST RATING, AND THAT WAS THE COLOR GREEN. THOSE COMMUNITIES
THAT WERE ALL MINORITY OR IN THE PROCESS OF CHANGING, THEY GOT THE LOWEST RATING… AND THE COLOR RED,
THEY WERE RED-LINED. AS A CONSEQUENCE, MOST OF THE MORTGAGES
WENT TO SUBURBANIZING AMERICA, AND IT SUBURBANIZED IT RACIALLY. Narrator:
AS HOMES IN WHITE COMMUNITIES APPRECIATED IN VALUE, THE NET WORTH
OF THESE WHITE FAMILIES GREW. FOR MOST NON-WHITE FAMILIES WHO STAYED
IN URBAN NEIGHBORHOODS, THE HOUSING MARKET OPEN TO THEM
IN THE ’50s AND ’60s WAS LARGELY A RENTAL MARKET. YOU DON’T GAIN EQUITY
BY PAYING RENT. Conley: WHERE ONE’S FAMILY
LIVES IN AMERICA IS NOT JUST A MATTER
OF TASTE AND PREFERENCE. YOU HAVE THE ISSUE
OF HOUSING AND WEALTH. THE MAJORITY OF AMERICANS HOLD MOST OF THEIR WEALTH
IN THE FORM OF HOME EQUITY. SO, THAT’S THEIR NEST EGG, THAT’S HOW THEY CAN FINANCE THE EDUCATION
OF THEIR OFFSPRING. THAT’S HOW THEY CAN
SORT OF SAVE UP FOR RETIREMENT. IT’S THEIR SAVINGS BANK, RIGHT, THEY’RE LIVING
IN THEIR SAVINGS BANK. Powell: MY FAMILY,
LIKE A LOT OF FAMILIES, WAS IN DETROIT,
STRUGGLING TO BUY A HOUSE. YOU HAD A DUAL HOUSING MARKET,
ONE WHITE, ONE BLACK. A HOUSING MARKET WITH ONE
WITH A LOT OF DEMAND, ANOTHER HOUSING MARKET
WITH VERY LITTLE DEMAND. MY FATHER LIVES IN THE HOUSE
THAT I GREW UP IN. THAT HOUSE TODAY,
FIVE-BEDROOM HOUSE, IS WORTH ABOUT $20,000. THAT SAME HOUSE
BOUGHT IN THE SUBURBS WOULD BE WORTH TODAY
ABOUT $320,000. SO WHITES MOVING TO THE SUBURB WERE BEING SUBSIDIZED
IN THE ACCUMULATION OF WEALTH, WHILE BLACKS
WERE BEING DIVESTED. AND THESE WERE
PUBLIC POLICY DECISIONS IN WHICH ON ONE HAND PEOPLE WERE GIVEN ACCESS
TO PROPERTY, GIVEN TITLE, AND SUBSEQUENTLY, WEALTH, AND ON ANOTHER HAND, WHERE PEOPLE WERE
NOT GIVEN ACCESS TO PROPERTY, DID NOT GENERATE WEALTH, AND DID NOT GENERATE
THE KIND OF OPPORTUNITY FOR THE NEXT GENERATION.

Race the House we Live In

4 thoughts on “Race the House we Live In

  • December 5, 2010 at 9:22 pm
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    It is sickening to see systemic racism in action, it is as bad a obvious racism if not worse….

    Reply
  • January 26, 2015 at 5:31 am
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    Good historical primer on the practice of "redlining" and it's generational effects on wealth creation.

    Reply
  • December 9, 2015 at 9:31 am
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    wealth gap explained in 6 min

    Reply
  • March 28, 2016 at 1:17 pm
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    Only one comment, interesting.
    This America, this country lies in a sad place. Minorities will never acquire equality because white America will continue to find a way to underhandedly marginalize people of color. What's even sadder though, many African Americans don't know their history and how deeply complex this system works are based on that history.
    And the mass media is at the forefront of impressing white Americans views and prospective into minorities psyche, keeping African Americans feeling inferior.

    Reply

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