Jacob Rugh (Sociology, Brigham Young University)
Black and Latino Home Ownership: Why Housing Wealth Matters to the Color Line and Multiracial Democracy
1:15-2:30PM, Mann 102
Hosted by Policy Analysis and Management and co-sponsored by Sociology and the Center for the Study of Inequality
Abstract: Recent scholarship across various disciplines since the housing crisis of 2008 has deepened our understanding of racial wealth gaps, especially as it pertains to housing. In this paper I focus on two less-developed dimensions of Black and Latino home ownership, voting and immigration, respectively. The Black home ownership rate has fallen to 41 percent as of 2019, the lowest level since the 1968 Fair Housing Act. I contend that the continued decline of Black home ownership reduces voting turnout. Net of other factors, a multivariate analysis state-level turnout in presidential elections by Black voters since 2000 lends support to this contention. In contrast to Black ownership, the Latino home ownership rate has rebounded, climbing to nearly 48 percent in 2019. I argue that this rise is as much a mirage as a sign of progress—an artifact of the deportation of millions of Latin Americans and the end of Mexican migration that excluded undocumented and disadvantaged Latino sub-populations. Such changes inflate Latino ownership rates by reducing the denominator rather than increasing the numerator of homeowners. Examining state-level data, my multivariate analysis shows that the decline in the undocumented population and, to a lesser extent, the increase of DACA recipients, explains the level and change in Latino ownership more than the change in the share that are citizens or documented non-citizens. I conclude that the color line has reinforced another new Black/non-Black divide in home ownership that undermines the social mobility and the racial representation of Black Americans. Meanwhile, a tri-racial divide among Latinos on the basis of legal status, race, and nationality stratifies home ownership. Intra-Latino inequality masquerades as progress because we have outright expelled the most vulnerable Latino immigrants and many of their US citizen children in ways that distort the home ownership rate calculation as well as the narrative of racial progress.