MA: A Segregated State

Amazing -- and not in a good way. "Is Boston [MA] racist?" Huh. - promoted by charley-on-the-mta

The Globe had a surprisingly in depth piece looking at the racial divides that still persist in the Greater Boston Housing market.

Naomi Cordova didn’t want to buy a home in Brockton. In fact, she was dead set against it. But the working-class city is where Cordova ended up, despite the fact that she’s employed at a tech company in downtown Boston and makes more than $90,000 a year.

With a price tag limit of$275,000, little money for a down payment, and no desire to buy a fixer-upper, Cordova, a 34-year-old single mother of Puerto Rican and African-American descent, felt she had few other options. The city, which she associates mainly with its gang violence, isn’t where she feels she belongs.

It goes on to profile the challenges which include a predominately white field of realtors steering minorities toward majority minority communities, lack of credit and savings, and fear of living in an all white community.

“The patterns are pretty persistent,” he said. “There aren’t a lot of integrated communities to choose from.”

And this segregation has persisted despite laws designed to reverse the damage done by decades of discriminatory housing practices. Some people are reluctant to leave neighborhoods where their family and friends have lived for generations; others are held back by reports of racism when black or Latino families move to white suburbs.

Finances are perhaps the biggest deterrent. People of color tend to have fewer assets and fewer family members they can borrow from — a racial wealth gap that puts them at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to securing a loan.

And even when minorities achieve levels of affluence comparative to their white peers-they are still less likely to live among their income cohort and rather live among their racial cohort.

Even when they are in the same income bracket as whites, minorities in the Boston region are turned down for mortgages at a higher rate and live in substantially less well-off neighborhoods, according to a study by the Metropolitan Area Planning Council in Boston. The average white family earning $78,000 a year in metro Boston lives in a neighborhood where the median household income is $72,400 a year, while the average black household earning $78,000 a year lives in an area where the median is $51,100 a year.

We should all be ashamed of this record.

In 86 of the state’s 351 cities and towns, not a single loan was made to a black or Latino home buyer

That fact alone should sober us from the delusion that we are a progressive state because we rejected Trump and sent Liz Warren to the Senate. By many other standards we still fall woefully short in income inequality and racial equity in housing. And housing is where it all starts. De facto segregation keeps minorities locked in unsafe neighborhoods, depresses their job prospects, their education prospects, reduces their lifespan, and crams minority voters in a few districts. It’s no accident our state legislature is one of the least diverse in the country as well. This is the kind of policy area a gubernatorial candidate needs to talk about. This is the kind of policy area Marty Walsh does not have the courage to address. And this is the kind of policy area we must be talking about on this blog and in the broader activist community.


5 Comments . Leave a comment below.
  1. Affordability is a challenge in maintaining diverse communities as well

    The article doesn’t delve into this, but it will be interesting to see if historically diverse communities like Cambridge and Somerville continue to remain so as income inequality and housing stock soars. Cordova is like a lot of my friends-too ‘rich’ to qualify for housing assistance and too ‘poor’ to live in the area.

  2. Would it be possible...

    …to require a blind assessment of mortgage and loan applications? That is, submit paperwork with only relevant financial information, but not any personally identifying information.

    • is there anything that counts up

      integrated “blocks” instead or towns?

      in cambridge, for example, the aggregate is diverse. but it seems block by block is highly segregated. is that the case?

      and if so, does that matter?

      • I don't think it does...

        …but it’s difficult to distinguish between active discrimination and happenstance, and yes I think which it is makes all the difference. I also want to note what is cited as the record we should be ashamed of as 86/351 communities with no loans to black or Latino families. Frankly, I can easily imagine there being that many communities where nobody from those demographics applied in the first place.

        • Interesting question

          I looked at the Census a couple of threads ago for some dates and was surprised to learn that the percentage of population in MA identifying as White Only had gone from 80 to 82 percent between 2010 and 2015. It might be possible in some smaller towns that there were no such applications although I have no idea how you could look that up.

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Mon 24 Apr 11:19 AM