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Op/Ed By Bill White
Tulsa, Okla. – Recently, I read a book by Richard Rothstein called, “The Color of Law.” The author goes into great detail as to how the local, state and federal governments have used the law to enrich white citizens, as it pertains to real estate and has forcibly denied new development, depressed property values and restricted grow and home ownership of African-Americans. The government on all levels creates a crisis then half-heartedly attempts to fix the perceived problem by zoning adjustments, urban renewal, predatory lending, and predatory retailing.
I asked myself, is this going on right here in Tulsa? No way! But statistically speaking, Tulsa is the perfect case study as to what I call effective equity red-lining. I don’t need to give a laundry list of stats…just driving around Tulsa makes it painfully clear.
I know you’re asking, “What is equity redlining?” I define equity redlining as property values remaining flat or rising extremely slow, if at all; challenges securing true appraised values, (appraisals that are not unduly suppressed); unequal county values, and inequitable “City” infrastructure development, and the list goes on. Several weeks ago, the Tulsa World, as well as other national publications, wrote articles as to how problematic it is for African-Americans to purchase-property. These articles might have some truth but a lot of times these articles never highlight banks denying loans because of zip code, appraiser’s unfamiliarity of certain areas, and being black. I know this might be uncomfortable but how is it that one area with professional and working class people that have good jobs/businesses and their homes values only increase by a small percentage?
Whereas homes of the same size, less than one mile away, can see an equity difference of over $75k or more and the tax assessed values reflect that as well. Equity redlining possible? Most Americans use their homes as a spring board to start a business but are “the government” or “the system” creating winners and losers, which by the way, is not their role. A few will say, “Come on, you can live anywhere you want!” I agree 100%.” And I believe, African-Americans should be able to do just that even if they want to live in an area that they are a majority and their equity should not be negatively affected. We know the history of America, and by enlarge, African-Americans lose every time when it comes to the equity game. Not by choice but it appears by design.