Black households in San Francisco, Oakland have fewest home-buying options in U.S.: Zillow

African-American homebuyers are at a distinct disadvantage compared with whites and Asians – a new study reveals, highlighting an ownership gap that has actually widened since the 1900s.

And in San Francisco and Oakland, blacks have the fewest affordable options to buy a home in the entire country, according to Zillow economist Skylar Olsen.

That often leads to homelessness or relocation, both of which were the case for Iesha Mandolph and her family. She had worked as an event planner for a medical device company. Her husband, Ezra Manolph, was a sound technician. The couple had lived a comfortable life in Oakland with their three children until she got sick and were evicted. Since then, they haven't been able to afford anything else and were living ouf of their car until they decided to pack up and move to Las Vegas.

"Home values are so high in the Bay Area," Olsen told KTVU on Thursday. "And in terms of looking at the divide, black incomes in San Francisco are so much lower, those households can only afford a small fraction of the listings."

Study: Blacks can afford only 55 percent of the affordable listings in the U.S., 5 percent in the Bay Area

Added Zillow economist Sarah Mikhitaria​:“That black home buyers are largely priced out of the Bay Area is especially concerning, given the area’s abundant job opportunities in the lucrative tech sector and its better prospects for upward social mobility for children born into lower-income families." 

Zillow’s analysis shows that African Americans could afford just five percent of the region's home listings in 2017 - the lowest percentage in the entire country, the data showed, compared to 42 percent for all homebuyers in San Francisco and Oakland.

Blacks have it tough in other cities, too, but not as dire as in San Francisco or Oakland. For example, blacks in Los Angeles could afford to own 11 percent of the affordable listings, 60 percent in Washington, D.C. and 35 percent in the Miami region, the study found.

Another comparison: While blacks could afford 5 percent of the listings last year in San Francisco and Oakland, whites could afford 53 percent of the homes on the market and Asians could afford 48 percent, according to numbers Zillow matched with home listings and U.S. Census Bureau data. The study was based on homebuyers spending 30 percent of their income on a monthly mortgage.

Nationally, all homebuyers making the median black household income of $39,466 could afford 55.3 percent of the homes listed for sale in 2017, Zillow found.

There was an outlier, or two. 

Yuba City, a city with 66,000 residents 45 minutes north of Sacramento, was one of two housing markets out of 500 that Zillow researchers analyzed that had a greatert share of black home owners than whites.  The black homeownership rate tjere was 82.9 percent, compared to 56.9 percent for whites. "In areas with small  populations, it's hard to say why without digging deep into the community," Olsen said. (The other was a small town in Tennessee.)

Zillow released a series of studies this week on the home ownership disparities, timed to coincide with the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s signing of the Fair Housing Act, a law that now officially prohibits discrimination in housing on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability.

But the study found that discrimination still exists. 

In doing her research, Olsen noted the gap in the homeownership rate between black and white households was 27.6 percentage points in 1900 when lynching was common and housing segregation was the law in some states. The gap is now 30.3 percentage points, she found.

"We've supposedly tried to tackle this great divide," Olsen said. "And while discrimination isn't legal any more and there are no more red-lined housing maps, the discrimination stills plays out through income disparity."