Report discovers troubling gap between BIPOC, white homeowners in Washington state

Sep 30, 2022, 2:47 PM
More than 143,000 BIPOC households would need to become homeowners to close the gap between white and BIPOC households in Washington. (Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)
(Photo courtesy of KIRO 7)

More than 143,000 BIPOC households would need to become homeowners to close the gap between white and BIPOC households in Washington state, according to a recently published report from the Washington State Homeownership Disparities Work Group (HDWG), with the support of The Department of Commerce.

“The big takeaway is that there [are] enormous disparities in home ownership, and that our history of racial discrimination and policies, like redlining, like the way the GI Bill was not administered fairly, contributed to that,” said Lisa Brown, Director of the State Department of Commerce. “But also, home equity is a primary form of wealth in American society, and it has been unequally distributed, and there have been barriers.”

HDWG spent nearly a year reviewing data to discover housing trends while authoring best practices to remove barriers to homeownership for Washingtonians of color, including a strong recommendation to the executive and legislative branches to “chart a new course” with new initiatives and bills.

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“Unfortunately, this is not just about history, because the last 20 years, this has not improved,” said Brown. “And so we need specific attention to home ownership, especially in BIPOC communities. What are the barriers? How can we increase the opportunities?”

Brown cited archaic lending, financial practices, and credit scores as traditional tactics that disproportionately impact BIPOC communities.

“We don’t expect this to happen overnight, but we do have a $25 billion home ownership assistance funding opportunity coming out in a couple of months and we’re going to work very hard to make sure that we’re looking at this issue,” said Brown. “It’s an issue across the state, particularly challenging in some of our rural communities.”

Black Home Initiative (BHI) is a new regional effort to increase rates of Black homeownership in the Puget Sound region. Its goal is to generate 1,500 new Black homeowners in the next five years, working in tandem with the national organization, the Center for Community Investment.

The policy framework includes policy strategies in four areas: Zoning and Regulatory Reform, Funding, Large Scale Acquisition of Land and Value Capture, and Cost Reduction.

“The state plays a role in directly funding some affordable housing, but we also know we need local governments to step up and look at zoning regulations, even permitting and things that might slow down the construction of affordable housing,” Brown said.

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Report discovers troubling gap between BIPOC, white homeowners in Washington state