“Having a safe, quality, affordable home was the necessary foundation to allow me to be who I am today,” Celeste Scott, an organizer with the organization Pittsburgh United told a crowd gathered outside the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) last week. “I am proud of my public housing upbringing. That upbringing allows me to stand here today,” she explained. Scott was one of over 100 grassroots housing justice leaders, organizers, and advocates from across the country who gathered at HUD to release the Housing Justice National Platform and hand a copy to Secretary Ben Carson’s office. The platform and action were in response to the ongoing housing crisis impacting households of all income levels across the country.
Just over a decade after the foreclosure crisis turned millions of homeowners into renters and wiped out over half the wealth of Black and Latinx communities, a new crisis of renter instability and unaffordability has emerged. Today, nearly 40 million families are being charged more than a third of their income just to keep a roof over their heads.
Despite housing being a basic human need, America’s housing market is built upon a foundation of discriminatory policies and practices—from the theft of land to redlining to over-taxing households to predatory lending—that have made achieving or maintaining homeownership especially difficult for Black households.
As a result, Black families have less than 10% of the wealth of white families, and Black homeownership rates are at a 50-year low as redlining and housing discrimination continue. Despite this, the Trump Administration is actively working to dismantle measures to fight housing discriminationestablished through the Civil Rights Act and finalized under the Obama administration.
“In the South, our communities have been built on the exploitation of natural resources and the resources of Black and Brown communities,” Trenise Bryant, an advocate with the Miami Workers Center, explained to the crowd. “We need HUD to stop attacking our fair housing laws and regulations, and take seriously their mission and mandate to make every community breakdown and end barriers to full inclusion.”