Report shows Salt Lake housing still segregated by race

It has been 50 years since the passing of the Fair Housing Act, making housing discrimination illegal.  Yet housing segregation by race still persists in every large metropolitan area (metros with more than 500,000 people) in the country.  A recently released report by Apartment List, an online rental marketplace, shows that Salt Lake City fares better than most of the country in desegregation but that the city has failed to make significant process in the past decade.

According to Apartment List, Salt Lake City is the seventh least segregated of the 50 largest metros.  The researchers used U.S. Census Data to calculate a segregation index for each minority group.  The index indicates the percentage of people within a specific minority group that would need to move to a different neighborhood so that the distribution of minorities in each neighborhood matches the metro as a whole.  Under the segregation index, a number closer to zero indicates lower levels of racial segregation.

Overall, Salt Lake has a segregation index score of 0.37.  Of the three largest minority groups, black segregation is the most prominent with a score of 0.51.  Just under half of the metro’s Hispanics residents would need to move to be evenly distributed.   Salt Lake had a Hispanic segregation index of 0.44.  Asians and “other” fared the better with index scores of 0.39 and 0.32 respectively.

While Salt Lake is less segregated than other larger metros, the report shows that since 2009 the metro has made zero progress in desegregating, earning an identical 0.37 index score that year.  In that same time period, the metro has added an estimated 115,000 residents.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 71.8 percent of Salt Lake County residents are white, non-Hispanic while 18.1 percent of residents are Hispanic or Latino, 2 percent are black and 4.2 percent are Asian.  Based on Salt Lake County demographic data compiled by the Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute, the neighborhoods with the highest density of black residents are in the Salt Lake City’s westside neighborhoods, West Valley and South Salt Lake.

Hispanics or Latinos are mostly concentrated in Salt Lake’s westside neighborhoods, West Valley, South Salt Lake, Midvale, Magna, Kearns and West Jordan.

Asian residents are mostly concentrated in the neighborhoods surrounding the University of Utah, West Valley, Kearns and West Jordan.

The neighborhoods with the smallest minority populations are mostly clustered at the southern end of the county in Herriman, South Jordan, Riverton and Draper with the exception of Holladay.

Nationally, Portland Oregan is the least racially segregated major metro area with an index score of 0.28. Milwaukee is most segregated with an index score of 0.61.

Racial minorities are also more like to rent instead of own a home and earn below the median income.  The gap in homeownership rates among minorities is a significant contributor to continued racial inequality.  In the Salt Lake metro,  76 percent of white residents are homeowners compared to 29 percent of black residents, 51 percent of Latinos and 60 percent of Asians.

The Provo-Orem and Ogden-Clearfield metros are even less segregated than Salt Lake.  According to Apartment List, Provo has a segregation index of 0.28.  Ogden has an index of 0.31.  In both metro areas, black residents were the most likely to live in a racially segregated community with an index score of 0.48 and 0.45 respectively.

Both Provo and Odgen have similar gaps in homeownership as Salt Lake.  In Provo, 70 percent of white residents own their homes compared to 44 percent of black residents, 51 percent of Latinos and 53 percent of Asians.

In Ogden, 78 percent of white residents are homeowners compared to 40 percent of black residents, 56 percent of Latinos and 66 percent of Asians.

While both the Ogden and Provo metro areas had a lower segregation index than Salt Lake, both metros are also far more white.  In the Provo metro, 83 percent of residents are white, non-Hispanic.  In the Ogden metro, 80 percent of residents are white, non-Hispanic compared to 71.8 percent in Salt Lake County.

Posted by Isaac Riddle

Isaac Riddle grew up just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah. He has a BA in English literature from the University of Utah and a Masters of Journalism from Temple University. Isaac has written for Next City, The Philadelphia Public School Notebook and Salt Lake City Weekly. Before embarking on a career in journalism, Isaac taught High School English in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. Isaac is the founder of Building Salt Lake and can be reached at