A Democratic proposal that would give Black people more federal aid than White people to make down payments on homes is bringing charges of reverse racism and threats of lawsuits. Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, proposed the race-based down-payment program to be included in President Biden’s $3.5 trillion package of health care, clean energy and anti-poverty programs that he dubbed “human infrastructure.”
Housing advocates are demanding that Democratic leaders follow Ms. Water’s lead. They say her proposal would finally deal with the inequality that White people are far more likely to own homes than Black people and other minorities. They point to a study by the liberal Urban Institute that shows the homeownership gap has widened since the 1960s. The study found that 72% of White families and 42% of Black families owned homes in 2017. That 30-point gap was up from 27 points in 1960.
Ms. Waters, a former chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus who now chairs the Financial Services Committee, said she would like the federal government to give $20,000 grants for down payments to people if neither they nor their parents own a home. White prospective homebuyers would be eligible for the $20,000 grants, but people of color would be more likely to fit the criteria. Particularly alarming to critics is that Ms. Waters would give another $5,000 in down-payment assistance to members of a “socially disadvantaged group.” The legislation defines the group as those “identifying as Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Asian American, or any combination thereof.”