(Bloomberg) -- The U.S. housing market is splitting along racial lines, with black homeownership dropping to the lowest level since at least 1970 -- just two years after the Fair Housing Act was passed.

The rate among black Americans was 40.6% in the second quarter, down from 41.6% a year earlier and the smallest share since the Census Bureau began keeping consistent data almost 50 years ago. The rates for all other minority groups also were down, while the measure for whites climbed slightly to 73.1%.

The gap is growing, in part because renters across the U.S. face a shortage of properties they can afford to buy as starter-home prices soar, year after year. In the second quarter, the homeownership rate for all Americans fell to the lowest since 2017, and the number of new homeowner households grew by only 585,000, a third of the year-earlier level and the fewest since 2006.


“The trends in the homeownership rate reflect a broader racial chasm in who is able to acquire the American dream,” Ralph McLaughlin, deputy chief economist at CoreLogic Inc., said in a phone interview. “Black homeowners are much more rare today than any time in last 50 years.”

Blacks have lost ground since the 1968 Fair Housing Act was established to protect minorities against discrimination in the selling, leasing and financing of homes.