In Memphis, as in America, the benefits of homeownership have not accrued equally across race.
Housing policy in the United States has leaned heavily on homeownership as a driver of household wealth since the middle of the last century, and, for many white Americans, property ownership has indeed yielded significant wealth. But Black families have largely been left behind, either unable to buy in the first place or hampered by risks that come with owning property.
Homeownership’s limitations are especially apparent in Black neighborhoods. Owner-occupied homes in predominantly African American neighborhoods are worth, on average, half as much as those in neighborhoods with no Black residents, according to a 2018 Brookings Institution and Gallup report that examined metropolitan areas.
For neighborhoods like Orange Mound in southeast Memphis, the solutions cannot come fast enough.
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Additional production for The Sunday Read was contributed by Emma Kehlbeck, Parin Behrooz, Anna Diamond, Sarah Diamond, Jack D’Isidoro, Elena Hecht, Desiree Ibekwe, Tanya Pérez, Marion Lozano, Naomi Noury, Krish Seenivasan, Corey Schreppel, Margaret Willison, Kate Winslett and Tiana Young. Special thanks to Mike Benoist, Sam Dolnick, Laura Kim, Julia Simon, Lisa Tobin, Blake Wilson and Ryan Wegner.