The Star Tribune recently published a Letter to the Editor from Center President Julie Gugin in response to an opinion piece lamenting the homeownership gap between millennials and their peers.
When lamenting homeownership rates, lament structural racism
As our country continues to grapple with embedded systemic racism and begins to belatedly acknowledge that these systems have prevented black Americans in particular from ever fully participating in our economy, I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated as I read the Bloomberg Opinion piece in Monday’s paper (“Millennials are facing ennui,” Opinion Exchange).
The author calls out how homeownership builds wealth and laments the fact that millennials still don’t own homes. While this is no doubt true, black Americans have been excluded from homeownership for generations via a long list of purposeful tools and policies including racial covenants in deeds, redlining and predatory practices targeted specifically to black borrowers. As a direct result, Minnesota today has one of the highest racial homeownership gaps in the country.
The fact that millennials are behind their generational peers when it comes to homeownership is worthy of discussion. But why is there so little conversation and concern around the low rate of homeownership in communities of color? Where are the calls for new ideas to address this crisis?
The piece continues on to discuss the importance of equitable wealth-building and concludes by calling on the government to think about policies to prevent millennials from becoming a “lost generation” of Americans “without a stake in the U.S. economic system,” which “could lead not just to ennui, but to unrest.” While some of these policies are worthy of open-minded consideration, I’d argue that the unrest the author hopes to avoid is most certainly already here for many of our fellow Americans.
JULIE GUGIN, MENDOTA HEIGHTS
The writer is president of the Minnesota Homeownership Center.