*Housing segregation has made New Jersey ripe for the pandemic’s spread, according to a new six-part series in USA TODAY that examines how racism fuels COVID-19 deaths.
One of the stories focuses on NJ’s Essex County, home to some of the most segregated and impoverished communities in the U.S., where some residents jam together in cramped apartments, multi-generational homes and housing projects. Essex County was among the top 10 in the country for its death rate from the novel coronavirus during the first wave of the pandemic, and still hovers in the top 15 months later.
New Jersey leaders try to address the inequities that allowed COVID-19 to hit parts of Essex County harder than communities that have more whites. They point to decades of housing policies – some unspoken, some written – that banned white property owners from selling homes to Black buyers. Those practices also excluded Black residents from the midcentury homeownership and wealth-building boom, and they kept communities of color concentrated in often poor and neglected neighborhoods.
Below, a video from the story by USA TODAY writers Deborah Barfield Berry and Kameel Stanley.