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Whites have 20 times more $ than blacks

March 5, 2012: 9:13 AM ET

Median household wealthThe racial wealth gap between black and white Americans might be wider than you think.

Consider this: The median household wealth of blacks was a mere $5,677 in 2009, just 5% of the $113,149 median wealth of whites, according to the Pew Research Center.

That chasm of difference in financial assets is one reason why black families are seven times more prevalent in homeless shelters than white families, according to a new report released by the Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness. Wealth serves as a crucial safety net during economic downturns.

In 2010, black families made up 38.8% of the shelter populations, but only 12.3% of the population overall. That means 1 in every 141 black families stayed in a homeless shelter in 2010.

White families, on the other hand, occupied 28.6% of shelter beds, while they account for 63.7% of all American families in 2010. Only 1 in 990 white families stayed in a shelter that year.

Black families are also more likely to be in poverty than their white counterparts. In 2010, nearly one-quarter of black families were poor, compared to 7.1% of white families.

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About This Author
Tami Luhby
Tami Luhby
Senior writer, CNNMoney

Tami Luhby is a senior writer at CNNMoney and covers income inequality, state fiscal problems, unemployment, housing policy and other economic issues. Luhby previously covered personal finance for Newsday and banking for Crain's New York Business.

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