The Uneasy Case for Reparations

Proponents of reparations cite past housing discrimination as a primary driver of today’s racial wealth gap.

The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) was established in 1934 to provide federal insurance for home loans and it led to a huge increase in home ownership in the US. In determining which residences to insure, the agency instructed underwriters to consider, among other things, a community’s “economic stability” and its “protection from adverse influences.” This resulted in a practice known as “redlining.”

See  Ta-Nehisi Coates, “The Case for Reparations.”

Yet, between 1940 and 1980, homeownership among blacks rose faster than it did among whites. (37% v. 34%)

See William J. Collins and Robert A. Margo, “Race and Home Ownership form the End of the Civil War t the present.”

Also, the vast majority (92 percent) of the total redlined home-owning population was white.

See Price V. Fishback, Jessica LaVoice, Allison Shertzer & Randall Walsh, The HOLC Maps: How Race and Poverty Influenced Real Estate Professionals’ Evaluation of Lending Risk in the 1930s.

If being a victim of redlining is a qualification for reparations, what is the argument for excluding whites?

Jason Riley, “The Trouble with Reparations for Redlining.”


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