Net worth of white households in D.C. region is 81 times that of black households

Wednesday, November 2, 2016
The Washington Post

"A new study that aims to explore the historical wealth disparities between black and white residents in the D.C. region found that white households have a net worth 81 times that of black households. The report, called “The Color of Wealth in the Nation’s Capital,” said the Great Recession and housing crisis of 2007 to 2009 exacerbated long-persistent disparities, with black and Hispanic households losing about half of their wealth. In 2013 and 2014, white households in the D.C. area had a net worth of $284,000 while black households had a net worth of $3,500, the report said. Net worth is the value of assets minus debt.

"The report traces the history that has prevented black families from attaining wealth in the region and throughout the country, from slavery to shortages in affordable housing. In 1840, for example, laws prohibited black residents from owning and operating restaurants and taverns. More recently, decisions to build highways through historically black neighborhoods in the District have devastated individual and community assets, the report says. City Paper first reported on the findings."

"In the District, the proportion of the black population increased as white residents departed to the suburbs, with black residents making up 70 percent of D.C. in the 1970s. By 2015, black residents constituted 48 percent of the population and Hispanics accounted for 10.4 percent."

"Structural barriers, the report argues, have had implications for gentrification and access to housing in the region."

"'Black people in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area are located at the bottom of the racial wealth hierarchy,' the report reads. 'There is a tendency to attribute the racial wealth gap to individual character flaws among people without wealth. This report provides an extensive history of the structural barriers in local and national policies, Supreme Court rulings, programs, and practices that created wealth for many White families and prevented wealth accumulation or stripped wealth from many Black families.'"

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