Dream and Reality: The Modern Black Struggle for Freedom and Equality

By Jeannine Swift | Go to book overview

10 The Housing Conditions of Black Americans: 1960s-1980s
Wilhelmina A. Leigh*Since the 1963 march on Washington for jobs and freedom, both legislation and judicial decisions have shaped housing opportunities for blacks in this nation. The major pieces of legislation were the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1968 Civil Rights Act, whose Title VIII is known as the Fair Housing Act. One of the more important court cases was Jones v. Alfred H. Mayer Co. ( 1968) in which the Supreme Court found that the 1966 Civil Rights Act precludes all discrimination on the basis of race in the sale or rental of real property, however private the transaction.Given this legislative and judicial support for an environment in which blacks could have a greater array of housing opportunities, how would one define the "dream" for the housing circumstances of Black Americans? What has been the "reality" of housing circumstances for blacks since 1963?The dream for housing equality of blacks in America could be defined in many ways. This paper considers three possible definitions and assesses the reality corresponding to each. The final section presents conclusions from the analysis.The three dream definitions considered are as follows:
1. Equal percentages of blacks and whites have certain characteristics with respect to housing (e.g., percent owner, percent lacking plumbing) regardless of the income distributions of blacks and whites.
2. Blacks have the same access as whites with similar incomes to all parts of the housing market.
3. Blacks and whites have identical income distributions, and blacks are housed any way they choose.

The first dream would equalize housing characteristics for the two racial groups without altering their income distributions; the third dream would equalize the income distributions of the two racial groups and let these altered income distributions guide the selection of housing by the two racial groups. If the second dream were to be realized, the income distributions of the two racial groups would be unchanged, and the market

____________________
*
Principal Analyst, U.S. Congressional Budget Office (CBO). This analysis is the author's own and should not be attributed to the CBO.

-93-

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