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
The ongoing drive to reform land use in Connecticut may not succeed. Bringing the issue to the forefront has energized opponents as well as supporters, and since the Connecticut suburbs typically get what they want, the chances of nothing happening are significant.
But it’s been useful nonetheless in illuminating one of the state’s most deeply rooted problems and exposing attitudes that seem stuck in amber from an earlier age.
Regardless of what happens with specific bills, the state has a long way to go to achieve equity. But at least we can more clearly see where the stumbling blocks lie. And we can maybe talk more honestly about the disparities between communities that are clear to anyone who looks, even as we seem unable to solve them, or unwilling.Read more
A watershed change in healthcare documentation occurred on January 1, 2021. For the first time in 24 years, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) created the opportunity to recognize and get paid for documenting the presence of health disparities into the national healthcare billing system.
Specifically, the acknowledgement of “diagnosis or treatment significantly limited by social determinants of health” is now official!
What are the social determinants of health? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definition of the social determinants of health (SDoH) is “life enhancing resources, such as food supply, housing, economic and social relationships, transportation, education, and health care whose distribution across populations effectively determines length and quality of life.” The addition of SDoH into the payment revisions for 2021 can have a big impact on the health of specific population groups, disease management and every person’s well- being. A zip code’s influence on the health of those living there is multifold.Read more
A decade ago, George Willborn, a Black radio personality and comedian, reached a tentative deal to buy a $1.7 million, 8,000-square-foot house in Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood.
But the White sellers refused to sign the contract, he said, even though Willborn had made the highest offer.
Willborn and his wife filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The sellers’ agent told investigators that the sellers preferred not to sell to a Black family, according to court records.Read more