WASHINGTON- African Americans have the lowest net worth income in the Washington metropolitan area, according to a study released Tuesday.
The Urban Institute, an economic and social policy research think tank, detailing the racial wealth gap within the metro area with the release of the National Asset Scorecard for Communities of Color. The study found that Asian Indians had the highest net worth, then whites, Latinos, and blacks.
The report examined the history of policies that kept wealth away from black communities.
“Any assertion that economic issues of black people can be solved through their personal decisions and is not based on the social system of America is fundamentally flawed,” Urban Institute fellow Kilolo Kijakazi said. “Local and national policies, Supreme Court rulings and practices designed to prevent accumulation of wealth by black people were simultaneously designed to support white wealth.”
Kijakazi listed state-sanctioned policies, starting in the 1800’s, which kept wealth in the pockets of white communities, from paying former slave-owners $300 reparations for each slave after emancipation while providing no land or resources for the emancipated.
Urban Institute senior fellow Peter Tatian said Washington overall has experienced a 60% increase in income since the 1970’s, but in Ward 8, a mostly black neighborhood in the southeast section of the city, income has remained stagnant or decreased.
“We have a situation where we have a city and region that are becoming more prosperous but we have people who aren’t; they may be worse off than before. If we don’t address those underlying conditions, we’re going to see this gap persist,” Tatian said.
But there are active efforts to address the racial wealth gap. Currently, white households Greater Washington n xx have a net worth of $284,000, 81 times higher than black households. However, Manna Inc., a Washington–based nonprofit, aims to develop affordable housing for low-income residents.
So far, the nonprofit has bought and revitalized around 300 homes and helped Washington residents, many people of color, attain home ownership.
“We have a goal of preserving diversity in the city,” Manna Inc. deputy executive director Sarah Scruggs said. “We have to think of this as a sustained policy commitment that will extend over decades.”