New Report Shows Racial Disparities In Car Ownership

When Hurricane Katrina stranded primarily car-less African Americans, was that a fluke? Or do racial disparities in vehicle ownership leave low- income people of color at risk of both natural disasters and chronic poverty?

A new report from United for a Fair Economy(UFE), “Stalling the Dream,” to be released by January 5, will analyze vehicle ownership by race, in particular in the eleven large cities most often hit by hurricanes in the last 100 years: Houston, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando, Jacksonville, St. Petersburg, Tampa, New York City, Providence, Boston, and New Orleans.

Many state and local evacuation plans rely on private cars as a means of escape; and in every state white people are more likely to own cars than people of color.

The report also examines the crucial role of vehicle ownership plays in increasing family income and net worth, in particular for people of color with lower incomes. The racial wealth divide has grown since 2001.

The median net worth of white families increased about 6 percent after inflation from 2001 to 2004, to $136,000, while the black median stayed unchanged at $20,000, according to the Federal Reserve.

Stalling the Dream is the third in UFE’s series of annual State of the Dream reports about inequities between white families and African American, Latino/Hispanic, Asian American and Native American families.

In addition to this report, United for a Fair Economy will have another 2006 publication on the racial wealth gap. In June, The New Press will publish “The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide.”

One of the report’s co-authors, Emma Dixon, was stranded without electricity in her Louisiana home for a week by Hurricane Katrina. The others, Meizhu Lui, Barbara Robles, and Betsy Leondar-Wright, are also co-authors of “The Color of Wealth.”

In early January “Stalling the Dream” will be posted on the web as a PDF at, with an embargo until January 10.

Via U.S. Newswire

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