Racial justice is not achievable without housing justice
For too many Americans trying to achieve their goal of owning a home, hard work alone is not enough. America should be a nation where all people have the same opportunity and the same chance to move forward. But too many communities know this is not the case. Decades of discriminatory housing industry and government policies have held up poor Black, Latino, Indigenous, Asian-American, Pacific Islander, and White communities on the path to wealth creation, economic opportunity, and poverty. home ownership.
We are at the crossroads. We can maintain the status quo or take steps to ensure that all families in our country – including families of color – have access to opportunities. Congress needs to make significant investments in housing programs, including the Build Back Better Act Targeted First Generation Down Payment Assistance Program.
Throughout 2020, the President Joe bidenJoe Biden The White House unveils its strategy for the net zero goal in 2050. and Congressional Democrats have promised a historic pursuit of racial and economic justice. But there can be no racial equity without housing justice.
Homeownership is the primary means by which American families create wealth. In fact, 84% of adults from all political backgrounds agree that “housing is essential to other positive outcomes in life, such as staying healthy, keeping a job and doing well in school.” In the same survey, 79% of adults believed that “owning a home is an essential part of the American dream”.
Yet for millions of people, this dream is elusive. Families who quickly became homeowners with FHA insured mortgages built up equity in their homes that could be passed down to successive generations. Yet, due to discrimination, originally only 2% of these loans went to families of color.
This inequity is one of the main reasons why there is a persistent 30 percentage point gap between blacks and whites in homeownership, which is as large today as it was when. segregation was legal. It is clear why the disparity in homeownership persists. The average down payment for a home purchased in 2021 is $ 27,850. For socially and economically disadvantaged families – many of whom are people of color and / or working class – saving funds for a down payment is nearly impossible.
Through no fault of their own, millions of Americans are systematically disadvantaged by decades of unfair housing policies and exclusion.
Every $ 30 billion invested in down payment assistance for first-generation homebuyers will increase the homeownership rate of blacks and Latinos by 1%, respectively. And this investment generates an additional $ 141 billion for local economies across the country. By helping those traditionally underserved, Congress can unleash economic opportunities in our country that benefit everyone. We know that a one-time investment in this program is not enough to correct the structural inequalities facing families of color, but it is an important start.
Discussions of the Build Back Better Act frontline issue grab the headlines, and it can be difficult to see what these numbers and statistics mean for ordinary families – and for our nation as a whole. Funding for the first generation home equity assistance program means stability, fairness and hope for communities that should not have to repair the legacy of discrimination themselves. It’s time to create racial justice through economic opportunities for every family that needs that extra help to make their dream come true.
Lisa Rice is President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA).
David M. Dworkin is President and CEO of the National Housing Conference (NHC).
NHC and NFHA are both members of the Steering Committee of the Black Homeownership Collaborative, which strives to create 3 million new homeowners by 2030.