The current racial inequities in homeownership and entrepreneurship in Rochester, NY result from a historical pattern of systemic racism toward people of color and preferences toward Whites. While Rochester has had many periods of prosperity throughout its history, Rochesterians of color have been excluded by housing and educational segregation, underemployment, underinvestment, White and economic flight to suburbs surrounding the city, income disparities, and extreme poverty. Today, the city remains highly segregated, and people of color continue to inherit inequitable wealth gaps while facing new challenges when trying to close them.
As Rochester embraces its status as a minority-majority city and aspires to rectify the injustices people of color have faced throughout its history, the systems within the city will need to shift. People of color, specifically Black Rochesterians, deserve reparations for the additional barriers set before them. These reparations, meant to close the gaps between White and BIPOC residents in Rochester, may come in many forms, including redirecting resources and providing direct support. The city is rich with leaders dedicated to supporting aspiring homeowners and entrepreneurs of color, yet a greater understanding of the systemic barriers to both is also needed. This report aims to provide an account of the historical and present-day challenges people of color face when attempting to build their wealth through homeownership and business ownership, as well as recommendations on actions the city of Rochester can take.