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Olympia Fields: One of the wealthiest and best-educated black-majority municipalities in the country

Frederick Veazey found what he was looking for in this majority-black village of grand houses, gated mansions and a world-class golf course:

Olympia Fields has a black homeownership rate of 98 percent. It is one of only a handful of sizeable, majority-black communities in the United States where the black homeownership rate exceeds 80 percent.

Nationally, the black homeownership rate is only 41 percent — virtually unchanged from 50 years ago, when the federal Fair Housing Act banned racial discrimination in housing. The national white homeownership rate is 71 percent. Incredibly, the gap between black and white homeownership rates is wider now than it was in 1900, according to a study released in April by Zillow, an online real estate company.

Four other black-majority municipalities with homeownership rates of at least 80 percent — Flossmoor, Lynwood, Matteson and South Holland — also are suburban communities south of Chicago, within a few miles of Olympia Fields. That is no accident: In the 1990s, a group called Diversity, Inc. helped to boost black homeownership in the area by sending black and white buyers to home sellers to ferret out discrimination, and filing lawsuits when they were treated differently.

But the cost of successful integration and diversity has been stagnant prices: Olympia Fields is one of the few places in the country where home values are still below 1990 levels… Please click here to read Tim Henderson’s story in the Stateline. A related story in here in the Tribune/Daily Southtown.

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