The homeownership gap for people of color in Wisconsin is wide; communities, nonprofits are trying to shut it down

“African Americans are more likely to buy cheap homes in segregated neighborhoods because of historical segregation patterns,” Paulson said.

One of the main reasons for housing segregation is redness, which started with the Homeowner loan company of 1932 – when the Great Depression plunged America into a housing crisis.

The federal government has issued bonds to refinance the majority of Americans’ mortgages. The government developed standards for the mortgages and neighborhoods it would refinance by color coding geographic areas by risk factor. Green indicated the lowest risk factors and red the highest perceived risk factors – hence the term redlining.

“Redlining meant that a neighborhood that had the presence of inharmonious racial groups would be color coded red,” said Paulson. “It was both black neighborhoods and white neighborhoods that had a significant presence of people of color.”

Prior to the 1930s, American cities were not officially separated by race, but because the Federal Housing Administration provided mortgage insurance, the federal government believed neighborhood risk factors would affect property values. The FHA has flagged a neighborhood’s racial makeup as a primary risk factor.

Redlining was “a close collaboration” between white federal policymakers, planners and developers, Glotzer said.

“Redlining was actually a form of lending discrimination,” she said. “There are huge barriers in terms of accessing credit, capital, money and good banking, which is always a big determinant of how people can live. And it is, and continues to be, something very racist based. “

Efforts abound to promote home ownership

Several public and non-profit organizations are at workng to help black residents of Wisconsin become homeowners.

Real estate agent Mo Simmons, who helps Lewis buy a house, is owned by Take root Milwaukee, a consortium of 50 community organizations, neighborhood groups, HUD certified housing counseling agencies, real estate agents and lenders who help residents buy, keep or repair a home.

Mo Simmons is seen outside a house for sale on W. Center St. in Milwaukee on April 30, 2021. Simmons, a real estate agent with EXIT Realty Horizons, is a member of Take Root Milwaukee, a consortium of 50 community organizations, neighborhood groups, HUD-certified housing counseling agencies, realtors, and lenders that help residents buy, keep, or repair a home. (Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch)

“There has been a lot of prejudice that has kept black people from owning property,” she said. “But there is now, in 2021, a lot more education and a lot more resources… and Take Root provides that ”, it mentionned.

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