AUSTIN (KXAN)— There are systemic factors that affect racial equality in real estate, according to researchers.

On Wednesday, the Urban Land Institute (ULI) in Austin held a panelist-led discussion on 10 guiding principles the institute compiled for developers, investors and others. These principles set out to make living more equitable for Black and brown communities.

“The 10 Principles for Embedding Racial Equity in Real Estate Development reflect ULI’s response to member calls for guidance on equitable development and the role the real estate industry has played in creating and perpetuating injustices, as well as workshop participants’ expertise and experiences, and ULI’s mission to shape the future of the built environment for transformative impact in communities worldwide,” a ULI report said.

According to the ULI report, there are land-use policies and practices that have created racial segregation. These practices have played a role in shaping inequalities in real estate that still exist to this day.

A portion of the ULI report said:

During much of the 20th century, real estate practices and policies used race and immigration status to segregate communities, both implicitly and explicitly. Even after redlining, exclusionary zoning, and racial covenants were no longer legal, the threat of violence continued to enforce these patterns. Because Black families were often excluded from opportunities for homeownership, they were not afforded opportunities to accumulate equity in their homes, the greatest source of generational wealth in this country. The impact has been catastrophic. In 2016, the average wealth of Black families was a 10th that of white families. Researchers estimate that at the current rate of convergence, it will take 228 years for Black wealth to catch up with white wealth.

ULI report

Panelist and Austin developer Corbin Graham said his company, Graham Development, is being mindful of how they can consider ULI’s guiding principles in its new development project on South Congress.

“This area of town is one of the higher densities for the people of color, and so it makes sense to consider that in the development,” Graham said.

A current car parts business will be developed by Graham Development into a mixed-use property with affordable home units and retail space on 50 acres of land.

Mixed-use development in south Austin

“Ideally, it’s a place where you can live, work and play,” Graham said.

The ULI principles are meant to address historic policies like redlining and segregation that still affect communities of color today.

“As new development comes into a neighborhood, working with the community,” Gibbins said. “It’s also how firms hire their employees, who they work with.”

Graham said they’re already considering least three of ULI’s principles ahead of developing the South Congress property.

“This movement has been slow growing…it is some extra effort, but in this day and age, I think it’s our responsibility,” he said.

Gibbins said developers aren’t expected to use all 10 guiding policies in every project.
The list is meant to be one small part of the equation toward achieving more equality in real estate development.