In the postwar period, white Americans were given attractive, government-subsidized mortgages to move to all-white suburbs, the best known of which was New York's Levittown, that were not accessible to blacks and other minority groups. That helped white families that benefited from those mortgages to build housing wealth.

The Federal Housing Administration at the time not only "refused to insure mortgages in predominantly African American neighborhoods" but also actively subsidized "the movement of white families out of cities into single-family homes in the suburbs," Rothstein said.

Racial segregation was built into public-housing policy. Contracts in suburban subdivisions were made with an FHA subsidy that explicitly required that no blacks be allowed to move in, either initially or through future sales.

All those policy decisions led directly to the race gaps we see now. "Without federal government policy of this kind we would not have the kind of segregation in any metropolitan area today," Rothstein said.

Comments: Be the first to add a comment

add a comment | go to forum thread