How One County Came to Symbolize the Collapse of Black Wealth in America

Prince Georges County was once a of beacon of hope for black America, but that all changed with the housing crisis. After the crisis,  the county came to signify the bursting of the housing bubble, taking black wealth right along with it.

Monica Potts, detailing the collapse for Prospect.orgpaints the picture of black wealth that existed within Prince Georges County before the recession and accompanying housing collapse:

Across the country, in the final decades of the 20th century, minorities were moving into suburbs in unprecedented numbers. But Prince George’s County was distinct: It was one of the few places—like Southfield, Michigan, outside of Detroit; Warrensville Heights, Ohio, outside of Cleveland; and DeKalb County, Georgia, outside of Atlanta—that grew wealthier as it became blacker. Median income in Prince George’s outpaced the national median from the 1970 census forward. 

But while black people were living the good life in Prince Georges County, with a median income of over $70,000, many didn’t realize that all they head was money, not wealth. Wealth isn’t present in many places in black communities, meaning blacks can’t dig deep when a financial crisis befalls them. Unfortunately, many of the folks of Prince George’s County were forced to learn that the hard way:

Even families who aren’t losing their homes have seen values drop, making it more difficult to get loans to finance their children’s education or their retirement.

If there’s anything to be gained from this economic downturn, maybe it’s the realization among black people that they are not rooted in wealth the same way as many whites and Asians are, and that since we don’t have the resources that they have, we can’t behave as they do – not yet anyway.

Maybe this downturn will create in African-Americans the desire to create real wealth, not just  the faux wealth that exists in home equity and second mortgages.


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  1. Most of the time, the housing market is fixed, so African Americans can only sell to African Americans, especially in the midwest…That is how we purchased our home in a decent neighborhood…We were approved to buy from another African American…Also most Caucasians sell their used homes to African Americans…It’s all a game, unless you get a miracle…My very first home as a single working mom almost cost me my job, (my supervisor was not happy about my first home purchase,how dare I go against the norm)…My husband was laid off within two weeks of his first home purchase…All my/our family home purchases were by MIRACLES.

  2. A HELOC and 2nd mortgage is NOT wealth! It simply means you'll be married to the bank for 20-30 something years trying to pay them off and ya NOT selling your house no time soon.

    • We will get it back because we got a new flock of young professionals moving in. The young 30 year old crowd. Most of them have good credit and $aving$.

    • Consolidate: I had a HELOC with the same bank and they let me consolidate my loan together. It saved me a lot of money.

    • That's awesome. I meet sellers and that 2nd line prevents them from selling successfully. I always love it when a homeowner gets a $30,000 HELOC and don't even improve the kitchen!! WTH? Who does that? Then wonder why they can't sale. They didn't increase the value in the home with the right renovations. PLASMAS DON'T ADD VALUE! Ijs…8-)

  3. The main flaw is that I don't know what the difference between money and wealth is.

    And honestly I am Asian and I feel like I didn't grow up with very much wealth or money so I don't know exactly how to differentiate the two.


    I do have a wealth of knowledge…

  4. This is not the first time that this has happened to our rich people in this country. It is not going to happen until you know your history. White people will not let you come up to their level. Stop trying to moving in to their neighborhood. Make your own. Make your business with your own people. We spend more money than any other ethnic group. They are telling you that they don’t want yoou.

  5. This was all a paper game. High appraisals, refinance, then drop the appraisals down below the loan amount. Who decides what a house is worth? What neighborhoods are more desirable? It is all just paper!

  6. This kind of writing annoys me. Where is Prince Georges County? Is there more than one? The reader can’t tell. Where are the five W’s?

  7. Sweat!