Student Debt Landscape Impacts Home Ownership in Boston – – DC Initiative on Racial Equity
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Learn about findings from the 2021 Living and Learning Debt Survey.

By Samiya Khalid, Policy Fellow for the Economic Mobility Lab

A home is often a family’s most valuable asset, making homeownership a powerful tool in promoting economic mobility and pathway to the middle class. However, historic discrimination in the housing market has made homeownership a contributing factor to the racial wealth gap. While homeownership among most racial/ethnic groups either held steady or increased since 2010, Black homeownership rates have continued to decline. In Boston, homeowners are 44% White, compared to 30% Black and 17%  Latinx Bostonians. 

Research indicates that this issue of low rates of homeownership is compounded in part to high levels of student debt. Student loan balances have quadrupled in the last 12 years, making it the second largest form of household debt, only behind home mortgages. 44 million Americans now hold $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. However, the burden of this crisis is not felt equally by all. In an economy where higher education is necessary for advancement, more people from low-to middle-income families are attending college. These families, disproportionately Black and Brown, often have to rely on debt to finance their education. 90% of Black students and 72% of Latino students take out student loans, compared to 66% of white students in the US. In addition to being more likely to take out loans, Black students also graduate with more student debt and take longer to pay it off. Higher loan repayment burdens mean less ability to build savings, accumulate assets, and spend in the economy overall, e

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