- 67 percent of US mayors are concerned about the racial wealth gap in their cities, though Democrats’ and Republicans’ views differ.
- Of those mayors worried about a racial wealth gap in their communities, most support targeted programs supporting Black and Latino constituents to own businesses and homes.
- 81 percent of mayors believe that limits on access to capital hurt small business owners of color, and support using technical assistance to help these business owners get loans.
A strong majority of US mayors (67 percent) say they are worried about the racial wealth gap in their communities, with elected leaders in cities with larger populations and higher costs of living significantly more concerned about the issue.
Those mayors who identify the racial wealth gap as a problem for their cities are close to unanimous in their support for programs designed to benefit small business ownership and homeownership for people of color. But when asked about specific programs targeting these problems, most said they would not back them in their own communities.
These are among the top findings in a report issued March 23 by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities (IoC), titled “Closing the Racial Wealth Gap,” which asked elected city leaders about their views on racial inequality in their communities and how cities should address the issue.
The report, coauthored by Katherine Levine Einstein, David M. Glick, and Maxwell Palmer, all College of Arts & Sciences associate professors of political science, is the third in a three-part series of survey results from the 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors.
For the survey, IoC staff interviewed 126 mayors of cities across the United States with more than 75,000 residents. The first report, released in December, examined mayors’ concerns about the mental health of residents coping with the COVID-19 pandemic and cities’ plans for spending federal aid. The second report, published in January, highlighted mayors’ views on homelessness as a crisis they are held responsible for, but said they lack influence to address.
The IoC received support for this research from Citi and the Rockefeller Foundation.
The report’s authors note that American cities “are home to profound racial inequality” that persists across housing, businesses, and retirement assets, especially when comparing the resources available to Black and white residents. In Washington, D.C., for example, white households had a net worth that was 81 times greater than that of Black households in 2014. That same year in the Boston metropolitan area, US-born Blacks had a median wealth amounting to $8 compared to $256,500 for whites.
While two-thirds of mayors in the survey said they are concerned about these trends, the 2021 Menino Survey of Mayors found significant differences in views depending on the …….