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  • Writer's pictureMarry De Austria

Urban Series: Housing - Philadelphia vs. New York City

Updated: May 13, 2021

The world population continues to grow and the fostering of urbanization is predictably going to continue its linear development. Urbanization is defined by Britannica as “the process by which large numbers of people become permanently concentrated in relatively small areas, forming cities.” For the purpose of this investigation, two urban areas, New York and Philadelphia, will be studied to answer the question: “Is urban housing impacted by race?” Historically, it can be factually stated that approximately six million African Americans migrated toward the northern states during the 1900s; this was coined as The Great Migration. A reasonable assumption is that, at the very least, African Americans will not have low representation. Additionally, to supplement that no race will be at an advantage over any other race, the Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act) will be taken into consideration. This idea can be disputed or affirmed as well during this investigation. From the 29 September 2017 chart created by the Mortgage Bankers Association, it seems that almost 37% of Non-Hispanic Whites live in urban areas, which is a significantly larger number than to Blacks (17%), Hispanics (33%), and Asians (10%). While this clearly disputes the hypothesis, other urban areas must still be investigated to further develop a concrete resolution.

New York is considered as the largest metropolitan area in the country; therefore, it is a perfect example. The chart below, referenced from the U.S. Census Bureau, displays the demographic of New York City.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

According to Where We Live NYC, housing statistics demonstrate that 39% of Asians/Pacific Islanders, 28% of Blacks, 17% of Hispanics, and 41% of Whites make up homeownership rates in 2017. This shows a disparity between each race with Whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders having a higher percentage of homeowners. Hispanics are at a lower percentage whereas African Americans are almost half of the Whites and Asians/Pacific Islanders.

Philadelphia’s demographics are shown below, referenced from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Philadelphia Real Estate & Home demonstrates that approximately 71% of Whites, 59% of Asians, 45% of Hispanics, and 40% of Blacks make up homeownership, the White population shows a greater number. For this particular urban area, the disparity is not as great as New York’s. But taking into consideration the ratio, both New York City and Philadelphia have a higher number of White homeowners. This can be attributed to the historical significance of the subject in that White individuals, due to racial segregation and white supremacist sentiments, made up quite a large number in terms of home ownership during the 1900s time period.

The Division of Human Rights website states that they have partnered with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development to launch a public information campaign to educate New Yorkers about their rights to fair housing entitled “Unlocking Doors. Breaking Down Barriers.” This campaign includes social media advertising, billboards, newspaper advertisements, informational materials and videos, and educational events. As for Philadelphia, it is stated on Philadelphia Commission on Human Rights that “Philadelphia law protects an individual’s basic right to fair and equal treatment by landlords and other providers of housing and real property. It also prohibits discrimination by providers of housing and real property related services, such as banks, insurance agents and real estate brokers.” This shows that both cities are making an effort to make sure that no race is discriminated against when it comes to housing. To answer the question, urban housing may be impacted by population, but it is not impacted by race.


“Housing Conditions.” Where We Live NYC, Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.

Philadelphia, City Of. “City of Philadelphia: Housing & Real Property Discrimination.” Copyright City of Philadelphia 2000 - 2016, @ City of Philadelphia, Accessed 16 Mar. 2021.

Research & Economics, MBA. “MBA Chart of Week: Distribution of Housing Types, Race and

Ethnicity (Urban Areas and U.S.).” Mortgage Bankers Association, © 2020 Mortgage Bankers Association, 29 Sept. 2017,

Smith, Sandy. “Minority Homeownership Is Higher Than Average in Philly, Study Finds.” Philadelphia Magazine, @ Metro Corp, 14 Dec. 2017,

“Unlocking Doors. Breaking Down Barriers.” New York State Division of Human Rights, Accessed 16 Mar. 2021

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: New York City, New York.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.

“U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.” Census Bureau QuickFacts, Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.

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