Gentrification in the nation’s capital continues to displace more of the city’s longtime African-American residents, as the Black population in the District of Columbia has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in decades. The Washington Post reports that Georgetown University published a study that analyzes the impact of the district’s booming economy on Black residents and offers recommendations to stem the exodus.
The report, which pulls data from several other studies, paints a picture of profound economic disparities between the city’s Black and white residents. The average net worth of a white household is $284,000 compared to just $3,500 for Black households.
There’s also a huge gap in median annual incomes: whites at $120,000 and Blacks at $41,000.
That’s not surprising because half of the new jobs in the district’s economy require at least a bachelor’s degree. Only 12 percent of Blacks in the city were college graduates in 2014, the study noted.
Consequently, white residents can pay more for houses and apartments, which is driving up costs and reducing available affordable housing.
Many of these inequalities stem from a history of discrimination that pushed the district’s Black residents to the fringes of the economy, the study said. Historic discriminatory practices range from segregated schools to redlining, in which banks refused to lend money to Black entrepreneurs and home buyers.
Creating opportunities for Black-owned businesses is one key solution. The report urges the D.C. Chamber of Commerce and city agencies to build a database of minority businesses and do more to help them thrive. Local universities can also play a role by offering courses on business development.