For more than a century, urban scholars have researched the racialized spatial order in the United States. Many studies have examined whether the spatial assimilation or place stratification model of residential segregation is more descriptive of the residential patterns of different racial and ethnic groups. The spatial assimilation model posits that racial and ethnic groups live in different places because of group differences in preferences and financial resources, while the place stratification model states that discrimination constrains the residential options of Black families in particular. What remains unclear, however, is the extent to which a policy that increases equality in the financial resources between Black and White people could increase the probability that they live in similar kinds of places, thus resulting in spatial assimilation, rather than place stratification. To examine this question, I take the case of the Home Loan Guaranty of the 1944 GI Bill (HLG) – a billion-dollar policy that could have reduced racial inequality in the financial resources available to purchase a home – and examine the policy’s contributions to either spatial assimilation or place stratification between the Black and White WWII veterans who benefitted from this policy. Results indicate that the HLG increased homeownership across race, but it did so in different places, with Black men owning homes in cities, and Whites owning in suburbs by 1960. In sum, the HLG did in fact increase homeownership, but it also contributed to the concentration of wealth and opportunity in White places and disinvestment and poverty in Black places.
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