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Race and Real Estate$
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Adrienne Brown and Valerie Smith

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199977260

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199977260.001.0001

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Racial Covenants and Housing Segregation, Yesterday and Today

Racial Covenants and Housing Segregation, Yesterday and Today

(p.160) (p.161) 10 Racial Covenants and Housing Segregation, Yesterday and Today
Race and Real Estate

Carol M. Rose

Richard R. W. Brooks

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the role of privately created racially restrictive covenants in American housing segregation. Racial covenants were common in residential deeds in the early twentieth century, purporting to prevent future owners from selling their homes to “non-Caucasians.” These covenants were treated increasingly leniently in the courts for the first forty years of the century. That pattern changed abruptly with the 1948 decision Shelley v. Kraemer, which rendered racially restrictive covenants unenforceable in the courts. Despite Shelley, however, racial covenants continued to be written into new deeds until the practice was made illegal through the Fair Housing Act of 1968. Even thereafter, however, racial covenants continued to appear in real estate records. Today, overt racial restrictions are widely ignored, but they are still very difficult to eradicate from the old records. This chapter gives some possible answers regarding their persistence, including the “sticky” characteristics of Anglo-American property law, as well as the response of real estate and finance professionals to what they have considered to be market demand.

Keywords:   racial covenant, restrictive covenant, housing segregation, Shelley v. Kraemer, Fair Housing Act, real estate records

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