Chart of the Day: Twin Cities Homeownership by Race

Here’s a chart from a must-read Jim Buchta article in this weekend’s Star Tribune, on the homeownership trends in the Twin Cities metro.

Check it out:

The piece includes a whole bunch of troublesome data from the Census Bureau, and caps it off with a few individual stories of people trying to buy homes. Here’s the main point:

Black and Hispanic neighborhoods in Minneapolis became the epicenter of the foreclosure crisis in 2007 and 2008 after unscrupulous lenders targeted buyers in those communities with risky subprime loans that often came with high-interest or adjustable-rate mortgages that made homeownership unsustainable. At the peak of the 2008-09 recession, entire city blocks in parts of north Minneapolis were riddled with foreclosures, causing house values to plummet and leaving former owners with shattered credit.


The problem goes back decades, starting with restrictions on where black people could buy a home. Later, a practice known as redlining made it difficult for minorities to get a mortgage in communities deemed to be a financial risk.

With the Twin Cities housing market churning at a near-record rate — 2017 sales are neck and neck with last year’s peak — the homeownership gap issue isn’t capturing much attention. Real estate executives are more focused on trying to address a broader shortage of entry-level houses.

The article has a lot of great data but, IMO, doesn’t emphasize enough the role that urban played in creating a the homeownership gap. Differences in income is the big driver, yes, but that doesn’t really capture the legacy of wealth disparities. Real estate and owning a home has been the #1 way that Americans have accumulated wealth.

That’s why access to homeownership and generations of racial disparities are almost inseparable, dating at least back to 1930s redlining, racial property covenants, steering, the eventual passage and then neglect of the Housing Rights Act…  All these things combined to create huge differences in opportunities around homeownership that have only gotten worse as, more recently, issues like predatory lending and restrictive zoning have exacerbated racial disparities around owning property.

The Strib article is well worth your time! Anything you’d add or change about the analysis?

Bill Lindeke

About Bill Lindeke

Pronouns: he/him

Bill Lindeke has writing blogging about sidewalks and cities since 2005, ever since he read Jane Jacobs. He is a lecturer in Urban Studies at the University of Minnesota Geography Department, the Cityscape columnist at Minnpost, and has written multiple books on local urban history. He was born in Minneapolis, but has spent most of his time in St Paul. Check out Twitter @BillLindeke or on Facebook.