I don’t think people like to talk about it. It’s easier that way. We’ve made progress, but clearly not enough.
Some of you may have seen the mapping project. It’s fascinating, to say the least. Based on census data they are plotting the racial makeup of cities. Right now, if you went up to a Salem real estate agent and said “I want to live in an area of town with a lot of Hispanics” we can’t legally answer that question due to fair housing laws. We aren’t allowed to steer people towards or away from a specific area based on race, ethnicity…on and on. You know the drill. This law was borne out of necessity when white people wouldn’t sell a black person their home. Oregon had areas of towns where blacks were allowed to live and not live. Let’s face it. That was an ugly time in American history.
Go ahead…mosey on over to the map…type in Salem, OR at the top…start hovering. You will see the racial makeup of the census areas pop up. Anyone that wants to live in a part of the city that is similar to their racial/ethnic origins just needs to click. You want to avoid a certain group. Click. You want a diverse neighborhood. Click.
I can honestly say in my 7 years as an agent, only one person asked to avoid a certain ethnic group. I was flabbergasted when it happened because I really didn’t think people would buy a home based on racial criteria. I am interested to see if being this transparent about our ongoing racial divide will help us to move forward, or hold us back. I’m interested to know what you…the local home buyer will do with this kind of information. Other than local school demographics, which is public information, there hasn’t been a way for home buyers to steer themselves toward or away from certain areas based on race/ethnicity.