New Paper Explores The Roots of Discriminatory Housing Policy

Date Published: 
August 31st, 2022

On August 15, the National Women’s Leadership Center published a new paper co-authored with Insight Center and The Groundwork Collaborative titled The Roots of Discriminatory Housing Policy: Moving Toward Gender Justice in Our Economy. The report highlights the connections between housing discrimination and gender justice.

The findings of the report are sobering. One in five Black women, compared to one in 15 white women, experience eviction over the course of their lifetime. The authors found that many Black women did not recover their wealth and housing after the foreclosure and subprime lending crisis. The effects of the Great Recession can still be seen. In 2019, more single women of color rented than owned a home, and more single mothers across racial and ethnic groups are renting instead of owning a home. Pre-existing racial and ethnic disparities among renters and homeowners were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report examines the origins of the inequitable housing system in America dating back to the government’s failed promise of 40 acres and a mule to formerly enslaved families. It discusses how the Housing Act of 1937 despite creating the federal public housing program and investing in sheltering white working- and middle-class families prohibited integrated housing projects, thereby relegating families of color to inferior housing. The authors note that the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) established the system of redlining, and how the U.S. Housing Authority’s practice of “slum clearance” forcibly relocated black neighborhoods. The civil rights era saw policies aimed at ending legal segregation such as the Fair Housing Act in 1968 and the 1974 Equal Credit Opportunity Act (ECOA), which prohibited credit discrimination based on sex or marital status. Since then, the housing markets have largely been deregulated and financialized. This has led to Black households continuing to struggle amid underfunded public housing programs; from 1996 to 2014, federal spending on housing assistance relative to GDP fell by 30%. This disinvestment comes at a time when Black households make up four in 10 public housing residents and when 74% of households in public housing are headed by women.

Read the Report 

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