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You won’t believe the racist housing policies in Ferguson

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By Nigel Boys

According to Bryce Covert, economic policy editor for ThinkProgress, the shooting of unarmed, 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri on August 9, by a police officer, is another example of the racial discrimination that has plagued the area since the early 20th century.

The board member of the New York Chapter of Women, Action & the Media (WAM!NYC) goes on to say that the ensuing riots and chaos that erupted in the county of St. Louis, is related to the extensive racial segregation that has been forced on the area.

Covert continues that the area the victim lived is the ninth most segregated area between whites and blacks out of 50 metro areas with similar situation throughout the county.

While a ballot measure from the year earlier, which had won by a substantial majority, was struck down in 1917, the realtors at the time continued to assign some areas of St. Louis as blacks only blocks, according to Covert.

Although unrestricted zones were created in a referendum by the St. Louis Real Estate Exchange in 1923, where realtors were allowed to sell properties freely to African-American people, outside of those zones, they could lose their license if they sold to them.

“Both the City’s Real Estate Exchange and the Missouri Real Estate Commission routinely and openly interpreted sales to blacks in white areas as a form of professional misconduct,” according to Professor Colin Gordon of the University of Iowa.

Gordon writes on his website that although these zones were combined into one restricted district in 1941, to get around selling properties to black people, the exchange created restrictive covenants. He continues, “By the 1940s, almost 380 covenants covered large and strategic swaths of the City’s residential property base.”

Although there are some areas which are predominantly black, this racial segregation has continued to where St. Louis County is almost 75% white and only 25% African-American, according to Covert.

Another reason for the racial unrest between whites and blacks in most city areas is that while the average white household has an estimated wealth stored in its home of $217,150, the average blacks in only $75,040.

Earning and property issues aside, one of the main problems in Ferguson is that it has a police force which is only about 6% black in an area where the majority of the residents are 67% black. So the residents rarely come into contact with African-Americans in their dealing with the police in their own communities, concludes Covert.

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2014/08/14/3471237/ferguson-housing-segregation/