Fixing housing inequities to help fix the wealth gap


For the vast majority of Americans, home equity is the largest component of household wealth. Grant Thornton Chief Economist Diane Swonk spoke with Dr. Richard Green, director of the USC Lusk Center for Real Estate and expert on housing and mortgage policy, about the fact that due to historic and ongoing racial inequities, black Americans are far less likely to benefit from homeownership than Whites.

Nationally, there is a 30-point gap in homeownership, and in many states it’s worse. The cumulative impact of that racial disparity over generations is largely responsible for the wealth gap between black and white Americans. Swonk and Green discussed issues such as mortgage defaults by minorities because of disproportionate fallout from COVID-19, lack of previous-generation homeownership tied to lost opportunities for family-wealth gain such as increased property values, and discriminatory zoning practices.

Why should employers care? Swonk and Green pointed to labor market implications — for example, COVID-19’s rapid shift from in-person to online schooling that sidelined a huge number of working mothers, many of them Black. For some of these women, there was no dependable way to work from home, given the insufficiency of childcare and Wi-Fi in urban areas, the home for a large proportion of black families. For this and other housing-related reasons, employers lose not only current valuable employees, their access to a diverse talent pool is limited.

Listen to the full conversation or the individual segments to learn more about what employers can do to help address systemic inequities in homeownership.



Chapter 1: Historical prejudice in US housing policy

Chapter 2: Why race still matters in US housing today

Chapter 3: Building a more equal future

From lockdown to slowdown, COVID 19 intensified deep inequities in the economy. To move ahead, smart companies are embracing a diverse and inclusive labor force that mirrors their customers, communities and employees. Equality and diversity are not just good policy but also good business.

Too often, these issues are viewed through a divisive political lens. But the economics of the issue are both clear and compelling — the more inclusive the economy, the faster it grows. It isn’t a zero-sum game. Building an economy that works for each of us means an economy that provides more for all of us.

Where to start? From housing to employment to healthcare and across a variety of other interconnected dimensions, listen in as our chief economist Diane Swonk and her guests explore how your company can drive equality and growth in our Economics of Diversity podcast series.






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