SEATTLE — A report from the Washington State Homeownership Disparities Work Group and the Department of Commerce found that more than 143,000 BIPOC households would need to become homeowners to close the gap between white and BIPOC households in the state.
Jasmyn Jefferson, who contributed to the report and is co-owner of Windermere Abode Lakewood, said the homeownership rate among Black Washingtonians is particularly concerning: only 31% of Washington’s Black households are homeowners, even lower than when housing discrimination was legal.
“The effects are worse than how it was in the Jim Crow era,” Jefferson said. “You have less homeownership rates among Black people than you did back in the 60s.”
David Jones, co-owner of Windermere Abode Lakewood, points to discriminatory practices in the industry in the past, and the deep marks they left that are still felt today.
“White families have benefitted from redlining for so many years, and it just continues to expand and compound,” he explained. “How do we solve something that continues to have an exponential, compound effect over time? That’s a really challenging thing, especially coming out of a pandemic where we saw the inequities be magnified because we’re all sitting at home.”
Jefferson also pointed out that homes are currently in short supply across the board.
“As a whole, Washington state is 50th in the nation as far as units needed,” she said.
Jefferson said King and Pierce Counties are stating different initiatives to close the gap in homeownership rates, and that having this report is beneficial because it provides the necessary data to build on.
The report recommends policy changes to allow BIPOC homebuyers more access to the market, but Jefferson and Jones said addressing implicit bias within policy makers and developers is key, and must be done soon before the gap widens.
“How do we incentivize developers to fill in that gap? How do you get realtors to understand what’s happening in the communities that have that gap so that implicit bias isn’t affecting how they’re being treated and they’re not being looked over as serious home buyers and sellers?” Jefferson asked. “If we don’t do that, we’re going to continue this cycle, the gap’s going to get bigger, people are going to lag behind, we’re not going be able to keep up.”
“We need more intrinsic motivation, and in order to do that, we have to have the history be taught as it was rolled out,” Jones said. "I don’t think we’ll have any policy that’s going to do that until we address the mindsets and implicit bias.”