Unequitable access to housing
In a study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, the racial homeownership gap is most striking for Black households. At 41.7 percent, Black households have the lowest homeownership rate nationally—30.0 percentage points lower than white households.
Historically, Milwaukee’s Black neighborhoods have struggled to gain access to homeownership. Housing discrimination is rooted in a long history of racist policies. Policies like redlining meant Black Milwaukeeans were denied access to equal loans and housing opportunities.
Banks refused to lend in predominantly black neighborhoods, leading to a lack of investment opportunities, further infrastructure, and a decline in housing stock. While white borrowers were receiving financial assistance in buying homes, black borrowers with even higher incomes were denied mortgages.
While the Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968, there continues to be discrimination in lending today. According to this study, Black families are 1.8 times more likely to be denied a loan (2019 HMDA data), even when they have the exact same debt-to-income ratio as their White counterparts.
Milwaukee’s legacy of redlining and housing inequality has had profound implications. A 2020 study by the Center for Economic Development at the University of Milwaukee, found Milwaukee ranked 49th among the nation’s 50 largest metros for Black homeownership.
While we know that closing the persistent gap between Black and white homeownership in Milwaukee and beyond will require serious change at an institutional level, Acts Housing is dedicated and focused on increasing Black homeownership.
- Acts Power Pack Workshops: education cohorts for families with the most barriers
- Individual Development Account (IDA): Access and matching/incentive funds
- Down payment assistance grants: DPA helped families already working with Acts repair their credit and attain a mortgage loan.
Closing the Gap
Five years ago, with Acts support, Black families made up ~20% of families purchasing homes for owner-occupancy. In 2023, Black families made up 54% of homebuyers.
In 2023, $28.5 million was invested in the community through home purchase, rehab, and down payment grant funds, and 230 kids were in stable housing.
Acts Housing is not stopping here. We’re committed to continuing our work in closing the black homeownership gap and supporting black families in achieving stable housing and generational financial stability.