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The current housing market features plenty of prospective buyers but few sellers, and is likely to make housing inequality and the racial wealth gap much worse. Politicians are beginning to grapple with this problem. President Biden came to office on a pledge to make racial equity central to his Build Back Better agenda, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) even featured corrections to redlining in her presidential campaign. Congress has also begun to address legacies of redlining and discussions of how to best mitigate their damage, and federal action around housing equity is increasingly vigorous.

Yet there is another, far less-discussed, but no less important tool perpetuating housing inequality: the practice of real estate appraisals. Crucially, the racial wealth gap is the racial housing gap. For every one dollar of equity the median Black homeowner in America has, the median White homeowner has nearly two dollars, according to a Brookings Institution report. Real estate appraisals were designed to support White homeownership and disadvantage minorities — and they still do today.