Race for Profit: How Banks and the Real Estate Industry Undermined Black Homeownership

Univ. of North Carolina. Oct. 2019. 368p. illus. notes. bibliog. index. ISBN 9781469653662. $30; ebk. ISBN 9781469653679. LAW
U.S. policy took a critical turn in the 1970s, from creating public housing to encouraging African Americans in low-income communities to purchase homes, explains Taylor (African American studies, Princeton Univ.; From #BlackLivesMatter to Black Liberation). Ending decades of redlining that restricted black homeownership, the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) joined with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to launch an unprecedented public-private partnership with bankers, builders, and real-estate brokers in order to buoy a virtually unregulated multibillion-dollar urban housing market on the backs of poor and working-class subprime borrowers. The shift propelled skyrocketing profits for the real-estate industry, but it was hardly uplifting. Persisting practices that Taylor describes as “predatory inclusion” spread racial discrimination by failing to protect black buyers in housing markets, in which they ended up paying more for less amid expanding segregation and unfair housing laws.
VERDICT Essential for readers wishing to understand the depth and differentials of U.S. racial discrimination, Taylor’s masterly exposé of the political economy of the racially bifurcated market systematically lays bare how residential segregation made profits from race; it also illustrates the mismatch of market solutions to racist policies and practices and underscores the limits of legislation alone to undo institutional racism.

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