Briefs & Summaries Inclusive Housing Thriving Communities

Racially Restrictive Covenants: A Story of Segregation, Disinvestment, and Lingering Implications

Racially restrictive covenants are agreements, typically embedded in property deeds, that limit the transfer of property to non-white people. The covenants remain common features of property deeds in the St. Louis region, though enforcement of them was outlawed by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelley v. Kraemer decision in 1948. This brief discusses the covenants and identifies strategies for communities to deploy in addressing them.

The contents of this brief evolved from a presentation given in the Colloquium on Inclusive Housing Policy for the St. Louis Region. Held in the Brown School at Washington University on December 15, 2022, the event was organized by the Center for Social Development in partnership with Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice and the Alliance for Interracial Dignity. The contents of this brief may also be found in Welcome Home: A Policy Briefing Book for Housing Opportunity in St. Louis County, edited by Molly Metzger.

Project: Policy and Housing Opportunity


Al Hammam, F., Haden, J., Logan-Wood, L., & Roeder, J. (2023, February). Racially restrictive covenants: A story of segregation, disinvestment, and lingering implications (CSD Policy Brief No. 23-08). Washington University, Center for Social Development.