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Black History Month: Housing Insecurity and Black Neighborhoods

A Bit of History

In the 20th century, the U.S. government established several programs that were designed to increase homeownership in America. These programs were relatively successful – for white households. However, many of these programs excluded Black Americans, making homeownership a distant goal. 

In the 1930s, the Home Owners’ Loan Act and the National Housing Act were signed into law. The goal of these programs was to minimize foreclosures and make homeownership more accessible to Americans with lower incomes. However, areas that were predominantly non-white were marked as “hazardous,” which denied people of color access to financing. In fact, only 2% of loans distributed in 30 years were given to nonwhite families.  

The Butterfly Effect

After implementation of housing programs nearly 100 years ago, nonwhite neighborhoods did not receive the same boost as white neighborhoods. 74% of redlined neighborhoods remain at low to moderate levels of income today.

When you think of the “American dream” you probably think of a modestly large house, a picket fence, and a happy family playing in a green lawn. For millions of Black Americans, however, the reality of the housing system in our country makes this particular dream a nightmare. 

According to The Center for American Progress (CAP), “For centuries, structural racism in the U.S. housing system has contributed to stark and persistent racial disparities in wealth and financial well-being, especially between Black and white households.

With homeownership and rental properties being less accessible to our neighbors living in these neighborhoods, many of our neighbors experience housing insecurity. We see this in our programs in Johnson County. Of about 500 people who received Financial Support assistance from July through September 2022, 75% identified as nonwhite (~1% not disclosed).

Building a Better Future

Racial equity and housing equity are inseparable. In order to make real change in housing equity for all of our neighbors, we need to center Black people in housing conversations. 

Black voices need to be centered. Black lives need to be centered. And Black communities need to be centered. Without listening to our neighbors facing housing insecurity, the existing, prejudiced system will prevail.

Housing insecurity is a real issue, and it affects our whole community. Together, we can bridge the gap for our neighbors experiencing housing insecurity and provide them with the resources to be financially independent.