I’m from Atlanta, Georgia; the heart of the dirty south, the gateway to the Southeast, the home of Martin Luther King Junior, and an active battlefield of racism and class clashing. Highways halted, police violence, violence against police, and all of the above can be seen on a daily basis on Atlanta’s Fox 5 news. Who would have known that these prejudices could still play a factor on the selling of my family’s home and our economic well-being. Blockbusting was killed by Lyndon B. Johnson, just a week after Martin Luther King Junior’s assassination, by signing the Fair Housing Act of 1968… well, at least that’s what is written in today’s text books. Allow me to explain how blockbusting works, and then go into how home insurance saved us.
The technical term for blockbusting is, “the practice of persuading owners to sell property cheaply because of the fear of people of another race or class moving into the neighborhood, and thus profiting by reselling at a higher price.” This is done by introducing a minority or someone from a lower economic class into a neighborhood. Then, fear is instilled in the other homeowners by telling them that due to their new neighbor, that the value of their home and property is affected negatively. Blockbusting feeds off of prejudice and forces homeowners to sell their property at lower costs to lower income homes (particularly minorities) setting up for the future exploitation of these lower-income families who will not be able to maintain the hidden fees and taxes.
I know that you’re probably wondering, how does this have anything to do with insurance? I can assure you that our home insurance was the sole savior to our future economic crisis’. Allow me to continue to set the stage and then introduce how we were saved from blockbusting and natural disaster.
Blockbusting is not dead. It has been resurrected like a zombie and preys on the fears found in the brains of our American society. American families are left running scared and both parties are found with empty pockets. Families are victimized, but honestly, the true victim of this vicious cycle of exploitation is the American Dream. I have found this to be true on a very personal level.
I grew up in a suburb of Atlanta called, Woodstock, Georgia, and in 2007, it was named the tenth fastest growing suburb in the United States. We moved into Woodstock in 1999, and found ourselves in a beautiful and well-respected neighborhood. I only remembered having white neighbors and white friends, but this all changed after about five years. I remember two black families moving in just down the street, and some lower-income “red-necks” moved into the house that touched our property from the backyard. Our neighbor’s yards began to go uncut, old cars began to accumulate in our neighbor’s backyard, and for sale signs began to be posted all over the neighborhood. This was the beginning of the blockbusting apocalypse of my neighborhood.
Now, I will explain how insurance saved my family. In 2007, a large tornado swept through my neighborhood and left my house wrecked with damage totaling to be in the tens of thousands. Our fence was found in our neighbor’s trees, the roof was destroyed, and the wooden panels of our house were ripped off and scattered. We thought that blockbusting was enough, but with our house being totaled, we were truly left with a house that was going to be impossible to put back on the market. Many families were left hopeless, but in our case, we had the saving grace that comes with home insurance.
Shortly after, my parents were looking to sell due to upcoming possibility of retirement, or in other words, reasons that are not caused my racism or prejudice of any kind. Unfortunately, the value of my neighborhood was much different back in 1999 than it is now due to the perceived racial make-up of its inhabitants and the tornado damage. My parents were then forced to make major additions such as: granite counter tops, hardwood flooring, a complete renovation to our backyard, and so on, just to reach the value of our home when we first purchased it. Obviously the “wear and tear” of the house and neighborhood over the years, the housing crisis, and the natural disasters played a role in the selling value of our home. Thankfully, we had home insurance to save our family from becoming victims to a huge financial deficit that would have taken place if it wasn’t for the safety net of our high quality home insurance.
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Enhanced Insurance is not written by attorneys. If you’re looking for legal advice, you need to contact a lawyer. Further, insurance practices and forms change constantly and are varied from state to state. For definitive answers in your area, contact a local agent.