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Tue Mar 16, 2021, 02:58 AM

Albuquerque's racist history haunts its housing market

Five years ago, Albuquerque-born Lan Sena considered purchasing land at the foothills of the Sandia Mountains. She found a property in the Four Hills area, where elegant houses coexist with cholla cactus on rolling hills. A horrifying clause in the property’s covenant nauseated her.

“When we pulled up the deed of the property, it had that language in there that Asians and African Americans could not live on the land unless they were slaves,” Sena said. She ultimately didn’t buy the land. As the 31-year-old daughter of two Vietnamese refugees who came to the Southwestern city in 1975 and 1981, respectively, through a federal resettlement program, she was deeply offended. In March 2020, Sena was appointed to the city council, the first Asian American ever to hold the position. “We have always been here,” Sena told me. “So when I got into office, I said this (language) was very unacceptable to me and I want it out.”

Racist and restrictive covenants like the one Sena encountered are no longer enforceable owing to the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Yet they still appear in the deeds of thousands of households in every part of Albuquerque, according to Stephon L. Scott, senior policy advisor on diversity and inclusion at the National Institutes of Health, whose master’s thesis at the University of New Mexico focused on the city’s racial covenants. Between 1920 and 1960, the town of 15,000 ballooned to become one of the Southwest’s largest metropolises, with around 200,000 people. But as the city grew, its government and early developers introduced racial covenants to scores of the most desirable neighborhoods in order to exclude Asian American, Black and Hispanic American homeowners. These practices, a recent seven-month investigation by local TV station KRQE found, made Albuquerque, like many Western towns, as segregated as the Deep South.

That discriminatory language persists in property deeds today. After 1968, some Albuquerque title companies omitted restrictions based on race, color or national origin, scrubbing the racist language from their covenants. But many did not. In March, High Country News reviewed 10 property deeds in historically white neighborhoods closings and found that four of them still included racially offensive language from the city’s segregated past.

Read more: https://www.hcn.org/issues/53.4/south-race-racism-albuquerques-racist-history-haunts-housing-market
(High Country News)

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Reply Albuquerque's racist history haunts its housing market (Original post)
TexasTowelie Mar 2021 OP
Sedona Mar 2021 #1

Response to TexasTowelie (Original post)

Tue Mar 16, 2021, 05:52 AM

1. Those racist deed restrictions exist in Los Angeles too

I found a few on sales I handled in 2014-2016. I'm sure there's some here in the Atlanta metro area, I just haven't come across any yet. They are recorded public documents and almost impossible to scub them all. I suppose if someone put their mind to it they could redact the racist language from millions of recorded deeds going back over 100 years. The ones I saw in Los Angeles were hand written in the 1910's!

As the article points out, these racist deed restrictions cannot be enforced per the 1968 Fair Housing Act.

The subdivisions can and should remove this language from current restrictions but redacting previously recorded documents is a big lift.

I think there's much more constructive things we can do to combat housing or any other discrimination.

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