Editor’s Note: Jonathan Reckford is CEO of Habitat for Humanity International. Lisa Rice is CEO of National Fair Housing Alliance. The opinions expressed on this commentary are their very own.
It is ironic and becoming that each June, our nation acknowledges each Juneteenth and homeownership, which the George W. Bush administration became a month-long observance. Juneteenth is the celebration of Black individuals’s liberation and theoretical skill to take part totally within the American Dream. Homeownership — a key driver of American family wealth — is the cornerstone of that dream. Yet right this moment, each the Black-White and Latino-White homeownership gaps are wider than they have been earlier than the Fair Housing Act handed in 1968.
Systemic discrimination in housing and lending insurance policies has been a main engine of social and financial inequality amongst communities of shade. Black households personal about 2.9% of wealth within the US, solely barely greater than they owned in 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation was signed into regulation. For perspective, the median White household right this moment has about $188,000 in wealth, in comparison with $24,100 and $36,100 for Black and Latino households, respectively. Without interventions, researchers mission that by 2053, the median wealth for Black households will fall to $0, and by 2073, median Latino wealth will meet the identical destiny.
Elected officers and inexpensive housing advocates should do extra than simply discuss in regards to the crucial for truthful housing reforms. They should act boldly and decisively to make sure the dream of American homeownership doesn’t stay an empty promise for yet one more technology of Black and Latino households.
By implementing the next insurance policies and applications, we are able to lastly break our nation’s legacy of housing discrimination, and all Americans — of each race and origin — will reap the advantages.
In the Nineteen Thirties, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation institutionalized redlining, the place largely non-White neighborhoods have been marked as undesirable and shaded in purple to warn off potential lenders. Meanwhile, principally prosperous White neighborhoods have been thought-about probably the most fascinating and creditworthy.
Federal, state and native policymakers should now work to repair the chance value of a long time of redlining and discrimination on communities now struggling to construct again from disinvestment and financial misery. As communities are developed, insurance policies should guarantee residents have continued entry to inexpensive and sustainable rental and homeownership alternatives.
A crucial first step is making certain the passage of the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act, which is languishing in Congress. The invoice would provide tax credit to drive reinvestment and rehabilitation of inexpensive houses in distressed neighborhoods, which might, in flip, enhance dwelling values and assist construct intergenerational wealth amongst households of shade. It’s estimated that this funding would create greater than $1.25 billion in federal, state and native tax revenues.
Though the Supreme Court outlawed express racial zoning in 1917, it didn’t ban the observe of exclusionary zoning, which successfully segregated neighborhoods by race and wealth. It was designed to maintain lower-wealth households and folks of shade out of middle-class, predominately White neighborhoods.
Today, insurance policies comparable to exclusionary zoning are reinforcing segregation in addition to driving concentrated poverty zones in communities throughout America. Restrictive land use and zoning laws restrict the growth of our nation’s inexpensive housing provide and forestall tens of millions of Black, Latino, Asian and Native individuals from accessing high quality jobs, good well being care, schooling, and secure and clear neighborhoods. It’s time Congress, state and native governments work to dismantle these discriminatory practices.
Research from Citi reveals that eliminating crucial disparities, in issues like housing and wages, for Black individuals alone would add $5 trillion to the US GDP over a five-year interval. Government, company and civic leaders should assist the event of mixed-income, mixed-use communities, which magnetize all earnings ranges and concurrently serve residential, industrial and civic functions. They result in larger upward mobility, but additionally stronger long-term health and economic outcomes for all residents.
In its early a long time, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) helped numerous White households attain monetary safety by granting them sustainable and inexpensive dwelling mortgage loans, and but simply 2% of FHA-backed loans went to dwelling consumers of shade. During this time when housing was far more inexpensive, the FHA additionally championed suburban subdivision construction and the usage of restrictive racial covenants, which banned the sale of tens of millions of homes to all however White households.
Advancing Black homeownership and shutting the racial wealth hole require greater than passing seminal housing reforms. They demand a elementary change in our collective nationwide mindset. Affordable housing leaders, native truthful housing organizations and nationwide nonprofits have a crucial function to play in uprooting racialized bias within the housing market, which persistently underprices homes in Black neighborhoods, and perpetuates unfair mortgage, lending, credit score and tax assessments.
Equity-based initiatives, comparable to first generation down payment assistance, which expands credit score to first-generation homebuyers, and special purpose credit programs, which assist lenders and nonprofits tailor lending applications to particularly meet the wants of economically deprived customers, are important for opening doorways to housing and credit score entry for underserved teams.
Fair housing teams in numerous communities are launching WIMBY (Welcome in My Backyard) campaigns, difficult particular person residents to take pledges declaring that they welcome everybody into their neighborhood. And nationwide, Habitat for Humanity associates are working exhausting on a brand new initiative to extend Black homeownership and advocacy efforts to increase inexpensive housing, revitalize distressed neighborhoods and develop mixed-used communities.
Fair and inexpensive housing is just not a luxurious. It is a primary human proper and an important gateway to larger well being, schooling and financial well-being. As we rejoice Juneteenth and the American Dream of homeownership, we should come collectively as a nation to pave a brand new approach ahead — one that’s cemented within the long-overdue promise of housing fairness and justice for all.