The nation's homeownership rate appears to be stabilizing as people rebound from the 2007 recession that left millions unemployed and home values underwater, but a new report finds that African-Americans aren't sharing in the recovery. The report by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies said the disparity between whites and blacks is at its highest in 70-plus years of data. By 2016, the African-American homeowner rate had fallen to 42.2% and lagged 29.7 percentage points behind whites, nearly a percentage point higher than in 2015, per the AP.
Experts say reasons range from historic underemployment and low wages to a recession-related foreclosure crisis that hit black communities particularly hard. In 2004, the pinnacle of US homeownership, three-quarters of whites and nearly half of blacks owned homes, according to the Harvard study. Now, a lack of affordable housing and stricter lending are making it harder for first-time buyers to obtain what traditionally has been considered an essential part of the American dream and a way to build wealth. An AP analysis of Census Bureau statistics shows some pockets of the Midwest and California had the lowest homeownership rates for African-Americans, while some areas of the South had the highest. More details. (Read more homeownership stories.)