Publication Date



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.

Document Type

Policy Brief


Thriving Communities


Inclusive Housing

Original Citation

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.


Alliance for Interracial Dignity ; Brown School, Washington University in St. Louis ; Center for Social Development ; Colloquium on Inclusive Housing Policy for the St. Louis Region ; community land trust ; disinvestment ; exclusionary housing policy ; historically Black neighborhoods ; property deed ; racial covenant ; restrictive covenant ; segregation ; Shelley v. Kraemer ; St. Louis ; St. Louis County ; Women’s Voices Raised for Social Justice ;