without public sewer is believed to be due to the fact that central city locations, where the majority of the BFHHs live, do have a sewer system.
Relative to the availability of central air conditioning, type of heating equipment, and house heating fuel BFHHs are also at a significant disadvantage. As to the availability of air conditioning (AC), 13.4 percent of BFHHs, as compared to 37.4 of all white households, had a central AC system. Lack of a central AC system in some parts of the country, such as Maine, may not have much impact on the quality of living; but, in the south where almost one-half of all BFHHs reside, it is a major factor affecting housing quality.
The availability of a central warm-air furnace or an electric heat pump in the housing unit greatly impacts housing quality, for they constitute the most desirable home heating equipment today. Based on the 1980 census data, 34.6 percent of the one-person BFHHs in the owner-occupied, detached SFH units, as compared to 52.7 percent of their white counterparts and 61.5 percent of all whites, had a central warm-air system. In multi- person owner-occupied, detached SFH units, 41.7 percent of BFHHs as opposed to 58.1 percent of their white counterparts had a central warm- air system ( U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1984a).
In addition to the above qualitative and quantitative differentials in the units occupied by the BFHHs, a higher proportion of BFHHs' income than that of whites is paid for rent. In 1980, one-half of all white renters of detached SFH units in the United States] paid more than 24.0 percent of their 1979 annual income for rent; and, one-half of white female householders renting detached SFH units paid more than 34.8 percent of their 1979 annual income for rent. Relative to blacks, the corresponding figures were 29.5 percent and 38.1 percent, respectively, indicating that female householders in general, and BFHHs in particular, have to pay an inordinate proportion of their annual income for subaverage housing in the United States.
Overall, the analyses show some improvements in housing conditions between 1970 and 1980. However, the wide black-white gaps continue to persist. The major factor responsible for the black-white differential seems to stem from the wide income differences between the two groups. It is concluded that BFHHs, the majority of whom have an annual income below poverty level, cannot afford the housing adequate for their needs; and, even those with an annual income technically above the poverty line do not make enough to enable them to attain the national goal of a decent home for every American family set in 1949. The black-white disparities in housing are expected to continue as long as the income gaps remain.
This research was partially supported by a grant from the Institute of Urban Affairs and Research, Howard University. The substance and findings of this study are solely those of the author.