Why Black and Latino Home Ownership Matter to the Color Line and Multiracial Democracy


wealth, race, segregation, stratification, housing, African Americans, Latina/o Americans, voting, immigration


Recent scholarship across various disciplines since the U.S. housing crisis of 2008 has deepened our understanding of racial wealth gaps, especially as it pertains to housing. This article focuses on two less-developed dimensions of Black and Latino home ownership, voting and immigration, respectively. The Black home ownership rate has fallen to 41% as of 2019, the lowest level since the 1968 Fair Housing Act. I contend that the continued decline of Black home ownership reduces voting turnout. A multivariate fixed effects analysis of state-level Black voter turnout in presidential elections since 2000 lends support to this contention. In contrast, the Latino home ownership rate has rebounded, climbing to nearly 48% in 2019. I argue that this rise is as much a mirage as sign of progress—an artifact of the deportation of millions of Latin Americans and the end of undocumented Mexican migration. Such changes inflate Latino ownership rates by reducing the denominator rather than increasing the numerator of homeowners. Examining state-level data, my multivariate analysis shows that the decline in the undocumented population and, to a lesser extent, the increase of DACA recipients explain the level and change in Latino ownership more than the change in the share of Latino citizens or documented non-citizens. I conclude that the color line has reinforced a new Black/non-Black divide in home ownership that undermines the social mobility and electoral representation of Black Americans. Meanwhile, a tri-racial divide by legal status and race stratifies Latino home ownership. Intra-Latino inequality masquerades as success because of the expulsion of vulnerable Latino immigrants and their US citizen children. The social consequences distort the home ownership rate calculation and pose another threat to multiracial democracy.

Original Publication Citation

Rugh, J.S. 2020. "Why Black and Latino Home Ownership Matter to the Color Line and Multiracial Democracy." Race and Social Problems 12, 57–76.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Race and Social Problems




Family, Home, and Social Sciences



University Standing at Time of Publication

Associate Professor