By Ariama C. Long
New research suggests that Black women and millennials are key drivers of current Black homeownership rates — and that they are outpacing Black men.
According to a 2023 Pew Research study, single women in the U.S. overall own more homes than single men do. In 2022, “single women owned 58% of the nearly 35.2 million homes owned by unmarried Americans, while single men owned 42%.” This is most likely due to the 65+ age group being predominantly women, who tend to live longer than men in the U.S., said the study. It still holds even though women who were “employed single household heads” in most other age groups earned an estimated $20,000 less than their male counterparts.
In keeping with national trends, Realtor.com research found that among Black homebuyers, Black women and Black millennials (born between 1981 and 1997) are the fastest-growing groups.
“[B]etween 1990 and 2019, Black women increased their homeownership rate by 5.6% while Black men’s homeownership rates declined by 8%,” according to the research. Although the pandemic slowed growth rates among both genders, said the researchers, Black women fared better in 2020. Black women also recovered from the pandemic slump faster and continued buying properties more than their male counterparts.
Experts in higher education and real estate hypothesize that these trends are rooted in gender education disparities in the Black community.
According to Joshua Brown, founder of the Brooklyn-based real estate company Pushing Forward Realty, there is more activity with more Black women buying homes in New York City because he finds that they have more education and more disposable income. Black women are statistically among the most educated groups in the country and more likely to achieve advanced degrees than men.
“Black women are amazing, dope for sure. Men are not at the same level as Black women in terms of education and financial literacy,” said Brown about why he thinks as many Black men as women don’t own homes. “Black men face a unique amount of hurdles, systemically as well as societally, in terms of being a Black man. There’s a denial of opportunity for certain Black men and lack of representation in schools.”
Brown said that real estate values overwhelmingly determine the overall quality of education children receive in low-income neighborhoods.
New York City Schools Chancellor David Banks founded the Eagle Academy for Young Men, which in 2004 was the first single-sex boys public school to open in New York City in nearly 30 years. He speaks often about how young Black men and boys in the city’s public school system don’t graduate at the same rate as Black girls and are criminalized, stereotyped, overly punished, and misdiagnosed when it comes to learning ability and behavior.
Satra D. Taylor, 28, director of higher education and workforce policy & advocacy for Young Invincibles, thinks that millennials were brought up believing homeownership is a marker of wealth and the “American Dream.” She said Black women who acquire higher education are working toward upper social mobility and generating wealth. She didn’t want to speculate without data and context about Black men homebuyers lest she perpetuate the stereotype that Black men are not present in homes.
“Many folks like myself, who come from low-income backgrounds or communities with low-income backgrounds, didn’t have access to wealth [or] capital,” said Taylor. “It’s a marker of financial stability and sustainability, but it’s unfortunate that for many with the current housing market, it is hard.”
In her experience, buying a home is hard. Taylor is looking into purchasing a home for herself and her mother. Many of her friends who own homes are Black women with doctorate degrees. Taylor is in her third year as a doctoral student at the University of Maryland. There’s an unfair burden of education and salary placed on Black women to qualify to buy homes, something she didn’t think about until she got into the process, she said.
She also doesn’t particularly want to buy a home on her own without a partner or second income to help.
While some of the data for Black homeownership is encouraging, the research is clear that the gap between Black homeowners and “non-Black homebuyers” has not been substantially narrowed. In New York City, a crippling affordability and housing shortage has widened the already-existing racial wealth gap for Black homeowners.
Both Taylor and Brown pointed to continued discrimination and biases that hinder Black families, men, and women from buying homes. Taylor added that student debt and repayments compound barriers to homeownership. Student loans, child support, or medical debt are factored into the debt-to-income ratio and affect being able to qualify for mortgage loans, added Brown.
In 1968, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act to ban race discrimination in the housing market, but Black homeowners still disproportionately experience lower appraisal values, higher mortgage rates, and redlining into underserved neighborhoods.
“It is not an equal playground. There are the haves and have nots, right now. Sometimes it doesn’t matter the degrees you have,” said Taylor.
Ariama C. Long is a Report for America corps member and writes about politics for the Amsterdam News. Your donation to match our RFA grant helps keep her writing stories like this one; please consider making a tax-deductible gift of any amount today by visiting https://bit.ly/amnews1.