Discriminatory housing policies are a major factor behind persistent discrimination and inequity in our country. Until 1968, people of color were legally excluded from getting mortgages or buying homes in cities throughout the country. This effectively restricted the accumulation of wealth through home equity to white families. On a national level, racial disparities in homeownership and wealth have only grown since 1970, even though explicitly racist lending practices have been banned for decades.
Lafayette is no exception. Many of our housing covenants featured explicitly racist restrictions that were designed to keep our community white. After the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968, we incorporated as a city and passed restrictive building codes and zoning to prevent additional development. As a result, our population has been relatively stagnant over the past 50 years, even as the greater Bay Area has grown significantly. Today, Lafayette is one of the most racially segregated and least diverse cities in the Bay Area.
We do support inclusivity outside of housing, and there are a number of local groups who do excellent work to promote inclusivity in our community. We believe that housing and land use issues are often overlooked in these discussions, and they’re important and complex enough to merit specific focus. In order to effectively promote racial equality and diversity in Lafayette, we must address the root causes behind its segregation.