Housing is the foundation for opportunity, yet throughout the United States’ history housing policy has been used to perpetuate systemic racism and segregation. From federal laws that authorized redlining throughout American cities to local policies that legalized restrictive covenants, policy has had a lasting effect on our society. As an organization committed to ensuring equal access to housing for everyone, we believe that public policy is crucial to combating housing inequality and dismantling a long history of housing discrimination that still affects us today.
Increase Affordable Housing
Across Virginia, there is a shortage of affordable homes. Many households are cost burdened, spending more than a third of their income on housing, and limiting their ability to pay for necessities like healthy food and healthcare. Affordable housing at all income levels is important to ensuring that every Virginian can live in neighborhoods of their choice.
Combat Community Displacement
As the cities throughout the Commonwealth become more attractive and competitive, housing prices are rapidly increasing, threatening to price out many long-term residents and causing displacement. Policies that ensure everyone has a safe, affordable place to live is crucial to combatting displacement.
Increase and Maintain Access to Homeownership
The homeownership gap is larger today than it was in 1968 when it became illegal to discriminate based on race in housing. This disparity highlights the extent to which households of color continue to be at a disadvantage in accumulating wealth due to barriers in accessing homeownership. Even when homeownership does become a reality, homeowners of color can be overburdened with the costs of property taxes, face discrimination in appraisals, and be at high-risk for foreclosure. Increasing and maintain homeownership opportunities is essential to helping close the country’s wealth gap between Black and white households.
Land Use and Zoning
Historically, land use policies have been used to perpetuate discrimination and segregation in housing. Creating more inclusive communities where everyone can thrive requires a shift from restrictive land-use policies that increase segregation and limit housing opportunity for protected classes. Additionally, policies that promote inclusionary zoning can increase access to affordable housing throughout the state.
Affirmative Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH)
Where you live has a big impact on how your life unfolds, and that varies tremendously by neighborhood. The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) Rule helps ensure that all people – regardless of race, ethnicity, family status or disability – have a range of choices about where to live, and that all neighborhoods are good places to live, regardless of the demographics of their residents. The AFFH rule provides a framework to help decision-makers plan for using their housing and community development resources in a way that ensures fairness and equity for all. Upholding an AFFH rule that holds decision-makers accountable for actively working to dismantle systemic racism in housing makes for more inclusive and thriving communities.
COVID-19 and Housing
In early 2020, the health crisis magnified the deep inequities that exist not only in the housing industry but also across our social and economic institutions. Our blog created a space for thoughtful dialogue on the many issues that were exasperated by the pandemic.