Emory Law Journal


After the Great Depression and World War II, political leaders in this country enacted laws and adopted policies that made it easy for families to buy homes and increase their household wealth. This housing relief was limited to whites, though. Blacks and Latinos have always struggled to buy homes or even find safe and affordable rental housing. State and federal laws now ban discrimination based on race in housing and mortgage lending markets. But the legacy of early racist laws combined with ongoing discrimination by private actors, exclusionary zoning laws, and even ostensibly race-neutral actions like gentrification increase housing costs for Blacks and Latinos and make it harder for them to buy homes, particularly in high-opportunity neighborhoods. This Essay describes the roles public and private actors have played and continue to play in creating racial disparities in U.S. housing markets. Given the sullied history of racism in housing and lending markets and current facially neutral federal tax and local land use laws, this Essay argues that the only way to close racial housing disparities is to enact laws and policies that are specifically designed to undo prior acts or conduct.

Included in

Law Commons