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The Wealth Gap: How Black Familes Have Been Excluded From Home Equity

Lawrence Lanahan

This spring, during #BlackLivesMatter protests, during the events that led to the riot in April, and the frightening violence that has strafed some Baltimore neighborhoods since then we’ve thought often of the reporting we did three years ago in our effort to look deep into the roots of inequality in the Baltimore region.  We called that year-long series, “The Lines Between Us.”  This morning we’re bringing you some of its episodes. 

In late 2012 we focused on the wealth gap, which has a big impact on which families get ahead and which families get stuck. Even more than income, wealth adds up all the financial assets families can use to get ahead which plays a big part in economic mobility.

This spring, in March 2015, two public-policy institutes reported that the typical black family has just 6 percent of the wealth of the typical white household – about $7 thousand dollars saved up compared to $111 thousand dollars for a typical white family.  The typical  average Latino household has just slightly more, a little over $8 thousand dollars.

Where does that wealth gap come from? And what does it mean in people’s lives? We started with our then-senior producer Lawrence Lanahan, who had the story of an 88-year-old African-American World War II veteran from West Baltimore.   

Sheilah Kast is the host of On The Record, Monday-Friday, 9:30-10:00 am.