The Housing Crisis for People of Color
Access to affordable housing is one of the most important issues for black families today.
Why does this matter?
The history of housing discrimination for black Americans is long, and continues to this day. Some details from major publications and media outlets:
People of color are twice as likely to be renters, and are also more likely to be low-income and rental cost-burdened. Studies from cities across the U.S. have shown that people of color, particularly Black & Latinx, make up about 80% of those facing eviction (source)
Home ownership follows suit. Per Time Magazine (June 2020), Black families are still denied mortgages at a higher rate than white families: "the gap between Black and White homeownership rates was the highest it had been in 50 years" (source)
Black Americans typically have a harder time getting approved for home loans than other races and are often targeted by high-risk lenders who charge higher rates
The New York Times reports that black Americans get "higher mortgage rates even with equal credit worthiness, and homes in Black neighborhoods do not appreciate at the same rate as those in white areas” (source)
Even today Black Americans remain the most segregated group of people in America, and are five times as likely to live in high-poverty neighborhoods as white Americans (source)
How could we tackle this?
In the immediate term:
Per Politico, a critical step is for eviction moratoriums to be extended. Housing advocates also say that the only way to ensure people can stay in their homes is to provide rental assistance payments. (source)
Additionally, on the Landlords' side, "industry advocates support giving tenants rental assistance payments to avoid forcing landlords to pick up the slack."
In the long term:
We need to invest much more into low income housing tax credits (LIHTC), which directly impact on the existence of affordable housing options. Expanding funding for housing vouchers, coupled with proven methods around Professional LIHTC Guidance -- has shown to be one of the most effective approaches to reducing long term poverty, and increasing earning potential in those who grow up in it (source)
Black families, still struggling with the effects of systemic economic disenfranchisement, benefit when they have support and guidance in how to most effectively utilize their LIHTC credits. Landlords also benefit from understanding the program benefits
As outlined in The Atlantic (source) and other publications, research shows the importance of “Housing Navigators” for those using LIHTC credits. These guides help point program participants toward areas with relatively high opportunity, help with credit-related issues, and even provide neighborhood tours where needed
In Feb 2019, a $28 million experimental LIHTC / Housing Navigator program enjoyed overwhelming bipartisan support, and estimates show that the program will increase each child’s lifetime earnings by $88,000 (source)
However, this program needs to be expanded to the 2.2 million families that receive HUD housing vouchers every year, following successful pilots in the past year
In the long term, we could also match the Veterans Affairs (VA) Loan Program. This program would provide a $0 down mortgage option specifically to proven descendants of African American slaves. Eligibility could be determined by genetic evidence through trusted genetic tests (23andMe, Ancestry.com), with a requirement of some minimum, proven percentage of African American slave heritage (>X%)
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