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How Segregation Destroys Black Wealth

President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Fair Housing Act into law in 1968. (AP Photo)
President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Fair Housing Act into law in 1968. (AP Photo)

(New York Times) – Americans commonly — and mistakenly — believe that well-to-do black people no longer face the kind of discrimination that prevents them from living anywhere they can afford. But a federal housing discrimination complaint filed last week by the National Fair Housing Alliance shows that this toxic problem is very much with us, nearly 50 years after Congress outlawed housing discrimination in the Fair Housing Act.

The complaint, and the investigations that led to it, shows how real estate agents promote segregation — and deny African-Americans the opportunity to buy into high-value areas that would provide better educations for children and a greater return on their investments.

Over the course of nearly a year, the alliance reports, black and white testers posing as home buyers had drastically different experiences when they contacted a real estate company near Jackson, Miss. Agents often declined to show properties to black customers who were better qualified than whites, with higher incomes, better credit scores and more savings for down payments. Meanwhile, white testers who had expressed interest in properties in the majority-black city of Jackson were steered into majority-white communities elsewhere.

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