The Biden White House has been publicizing America’s new Juneteenth federal holiday, celebrating the end of Black slavery and the ongoing struggle for real Black independence and equality. One of the White House’s announcements may have puzzled some people: “Exclusionary Zoning: Its Effect on Racial Discrimination in the Housing Market.”
Zoning? We might understand protecting and expanding voting rights, fighting employment discrimination, or attacking white supremacist organizations (all of which the Administration is doing.). But why highlight housing and zoning policy?
Biden’s people know what they’re talking about. America’s housing and zoning policies are riddled with systemic racism. And that continuing racism feeds long-term and ongoing negative impacts on Black incomes, wealth, and equality. Whites are much more likely to inherit wealth than Blacks, and much of that inherited wealth comes from housing equity.Read more
“We kind of held the place together for a long time with duct tape and bubble gum,” said Doug Denes, who served on the board of the Branford Housing Authority for more than two decades, including as chairman, until 2019.
Attempts over the past nine years to raze and replace the three deteriorating buildings have all failed, however, because of local opposition to the housing authority’s plan to lift the age restriction for the complex. Instead of housing 39 older residents, the new complex would accommodate 126 people of all ages, including families.
Some residents and elected officials in Branford, an affluent shoreline town near New Haven, have reacted with hostility to the plan, saying it would spoil the character of the community and attract undesirable people.Read more
The Connecticut watchdog agency tasked with enforcing the state’s anti-discrimination laws on Monday will lay out the role segregation is playing to disproportionately kill Black and Latino residents during the pandemic.
“Connecticut is one of the most racially segregated states in the nation,” is how the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities begins its 51-page report. “Segregation born of zoning policies has had a particularly deadly effect during the COVID-19 pandemic. … The effects of segregation cannot only be measured in municipal demographics or statistics of income inequality, but in lives lost.”Read more
The average White household in the U.S. today has amassed about seven times more wealth than the average Black household. The disparity widened in the half-century since the civil rights movement, despite a wave of laws protecting against racial discrimination at work, in housing and other economic realms. A wave of protests in U.S. cities last year provoked by police killings of Black citizens, including George Floyd on May 25, raised awareness of the history of what academics call systemic racism. Since then, two cities have voted to make reparations for past discrimination, President Joe Biden has supported the idea of studying wider reparations for slavery, and the Federal Reserve and a number of leading private banks have pledged to do more to address racial inequality.Read more
Last summer, DonnaLee Norrington had a dream about owning a home. Not the figurative kind, but a literal dream, as she slept in the rental studio apartment in South Los Angeles that she was sharing with a friend.
At around 2 a.m., Norrington remembers, "God said to me, 'Why don't you get a mortgage that doesn't move?' And in my head I knew that meant a fixed mortgage."
The very next morning — she made an appointment with Mark Alston, a local mortgage broker well known in South LA Black community, to inquire about purchasing her very own home for the first time.
She was 59 at the time.
Alston has built his lending practice on the hope of expanding access to homeownership for Black Americans. He says they have been systematically discriminated against by the real estate industry and government policy. Unlike most loan officers, Alston works with his clients for months — even years — to disentangle a convoluted loan application process, pay off bills and boost credit scores so they can ultimately qualify for a home loan.Read more
NPR's Ailsa Chang talks with writer Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor about the racist real estate practices that ensured wealth accumulated along racial lines, even after housing discrimination became illegal.Read more
Housing segregation by race and class is a fountainhead of inequality in America, yet for generations, politicians have been terrified to address the issue. That is why it is so significant that President Biden has proposed, as part of his American Jobs Act, a $5 billion race-to-the-top competitive grants program to spur jurisdictions to “eliminate exclusionary zoning and harmful land use policies.” Mr. Biden would reward localities that voluntarily agree to jettison “minimum lot sizes, mandatory parking requirements, and prohibitions on multifamily housing.” The Biden administration is off to an important start, but over the course of his term, Mr. Biden should add sticks to the carrots he has already proposed.Read more
President Biden’s American Jobs infrastructure plan hopes to shake this country free of wasteful barriers to affordable housing — especially in booming areas.
An “innovative” competitive grant program will act to eliminate these harmful zoning and land-use practices. Mr. Biden has the right goal — reducing regulatory barriers on new construction could have wide-ranging economic benefits that exceed anything else in his $2 trillion plan. But a competitive grant program is too weak to overcome the entrenched interests — like the homeowners who control local zoning boards and the wealthy residents of cooperatives who oppose all neighborhood change — that limit building in productive places.Read more
Government-backed affordable housing in Chicago has largely been confined to majority-Black neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty over the last two decades, a design that has perpetuated the city's long history of segregation.
As the neighborhoods faced rising divestment, gun violence and food deserts, the lack of affordable housing in other parts of the city restricted many people of color from leaving.
But now, using its largest pot of federal housing funding, Chicago wants to chart a corrective path by aggressively pushing for more affordable homes in high-income, well-resourced areas, which housing experts say would unlock previously unavailable opportunities for communities of color.Read more
On Wednesday, President Biden announced and outlined the next priority on his legislative agenda: a climate-centered infrastructure bill.
At $2 trillion-plus, the American Jobs Plan is a far-reaching proposal to modernize and transform the built environment and infrastructure of the United States. The scope of it is impressive. The plan would, if passed, provided a total of $115 billion for roads and bridges, $85 billion for public transit, $80 billion for passenger and freight rail and $111 billion for water infrastructure including $45 billion for lead abatement, to prevent another Flint, Mich., or Jackson, Miss.Read more