Academic journal article Cityscape

Inclusion and Exclusion in American Neighborhoods

Academic journal article Cityscape

Inclusion and Exclusion in American Neighborhoods

Article excerpt

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not represent the official positions or policies of the Office of Policy Development and Research, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the U.S. government.

The year 2013 saw the commemoration of a few of the most significant events in the history of the civil rights movement: the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, when the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered his famous "I Have a Dream" speech. On August 28, 2013, policymakers and advocates gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., to celebrate the great progress and achievements that have been made. Supreme Court rulings in 1917 and 1948 proscribed the use of municipal ordinances and restrictive covenants to discriminate on the basis of race (Buchanan v. Warley; Shelley v. Kraemer). In 1963, President John F. Kennedy issued Executive Order 11063 to ban racial discrimination through the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and in public housing. In the years after the March on Washington, Congress passed several landmark civil rights laws, including the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which outlawed racial discrimination in the private housing market, and the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, which expanded protection to families with children and people with disabilities. Since these legal decisions and legislative acts, residential racial and ethnic discrimination and segregation have declined substantially. A U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-sponsored Housing Discrimination Study in 1977 found that Black renters were frequently denied access to advertised units that were available to equally qualified Whites; by 2012, the net difference in advertised unit availability to equally qualified Black and White renters had virtually disappeared. A similar trend characterizes the for-sale market; in 2012, when equally qualified White and Black homebuyers called to make an appointment to view an advertised home for sale, they were treated equally in 95.5 percent of cases (Turner et ah, 2013). Discrimination in the housing market has not disappeared entirely, but blatant discrimination has declined substantially. Furthermore, neighborhood segregation-the extent to which minority individuals tend to live near others of the same race-peaked around 1970 and has declined 27 percent since that time (Cutler, Glaeser, and Vigdor, 1999; Litschwartz, 2013).

Lingering Disparities

One particularly visible sign of progress on civil rights was a man standing on the speaker's podium at the Lincoln Memorial on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington: Barack Obama, the first African-American President of the United States. President Obama, like many of the speakers that day, emphasized that, although much progress has been made on civil rights, many important racial and ethnic disparities remain. As of July 2014, the unemployment rate for Black adults was 11.0 percent compared with only 5.2 percent for White adults and 6.1 percent overall (BLS, 2014). Among Black children bom into the lowest quintile of the income distribution, 54 percent remained in the bottom quintile as adults, compared with 31 percent for White children. Among Black children born in the middle quintile, 45 percent fell back to the lowest quintile as adults, compared with only 16 percent for White children (Isaacs, 2008).

In the housing world, similar disparities remain. The same national study of housing discrimination against racial and ethnic minorities that showed significant reductions in some forms of blatant discrimination indicates that housing discrimination continues, simply in more subtle forms. Minority renters and homebuyers are likely to be told about and shown fewer housing options, constraining their choices. For example, the study found that in about one-half of in-person rental tests, one tester was told about more available units than the other tester, with White renters significantly more likely to be favored than minority renters. …

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