Gregory Squires

Recent Articles

The Indelible Color Line: The Persistence of Housing Discrimination

Overt racism and active discrimination have decreased significantly over the last 30 years. So how come acute urban segregation persists? We need to look at our mortgage and insurance practices. 

T hough overt racism has diminished greatly over the last 30 years, most American cities remain deeply segregated. A host of other problems, such as the lack of both public services and private enterprise in inner-city black neighborhoods, have persisted in part because of this segregation. The challenge today is no longer to thwart individual white racists or, certainly, the patent discrimination of the old "neighborhood improvement associations," which flatly excluded blacks. Rather we must address the legacy of nearly a century of institutional practices that embedded racial and ethnic ghettos deep in our urban demography. Specifically, the practices of mortgage lenders and property insurers may have done more to shape housing patterns than bald racism ever did. Underwriting Discrimination Real estate agents and federal housing officials long listened to sociologist and Federal Housing Administration (FHA) advisor Homer Hoyt, who concluded in 1933 that blacks and Mexicans had a...