top of page

Households of Color Lost Billions of Dollars in King County

Since 1950, households of color in King County lost $12 billion to $34 billion because of redlining and other racially discriminatory housing practices, according to a recent report commissioned by the county and covered in the Seattle Times.

winter couple

Conducted by the consulting firm ECONorthwest, the study’s estimates reflect not just the amount lost because of a lack of homeownership among people of color, but also money that went toward rent payments that never accrued wealth, and wealth lost because of lower home value appreciations for homes owned by people of color compared with white people.

For Black households in King County, the estimated cumulative intergenerational wealth loss ranges between $5.4 billion and $15.8 billion, the study found.

viewing scrapbook

The study was part of a report commissioned in 2021, when the council directed county staff to look into the possibility of wastewater capacity charge exemptions or cost reductions as a form of reparations for those affected by redlining and racial covenants.

Overall, the study estimated the lost wealth for the average Black household ranges from $105,000 to $306,000, and for other nonwhite households, including Hispanic, Indigenous and Asian households, ranges from $32,000 to $85,000 in 2019 dollars.

Asian couple

In 1950, about 35% of households of color owned their homes, compared with more than 60% of white households, the ECONorthwest study found, a reflection of explicitly racially discriminatory housing practices like racial deed restrictions and redlining.

In 1968, the federal government outlawed housing discrimination based on race through the Fair Housing Act.


Homeownership among people of color in King County peaked at 49% of Black, Indigenous and people of color households between 1960 and 1970, but has since decreased, the study found.

The study noted that in place of explicitly racist real estate practices, other policies and trends emerged — single-family zoning, community disinvestment, mortgage discrimination, subprime lending, urban renewal, gentrification — that blocked access toward building generational wealth for people of color.


Featured Posts
Recent Posts
bottom of page