Homeownership can be one of the single best ways to build equity, sustainability, and wealth for future generations. But Black people still face systematic obstacles in reaching this goal. Gentrification can make homeownership particularly difficult for Black residents. These changes include increased home prices and pushing out residents making it hard for Black people to own property or even rent in those cities. Yet Ben Carson and this current Administration have proposed cutting Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding by 8.8 billion dollars. As Black History Month ends, we must fight for local and state agencies to carry the torch when the federal government continues to fail low-income communities and communities of color.
Despite the obvious raise in rent in gentrified communities like Oakland, Carson and Trump want to cut rental assistance funds by 11.2%. The individuals who receive rental assistance funds likely have trouble paying more than 30% of their income. While indeed these issues aren’t limited to communities of color, in predominately Black areas, it follows that these cuts will impact Black and low-income communities. In fact, the programs that are on the chopping block support over 9 million people in this country and 4.2 million of those individuals are Black.
It is already hard enough to get housing as a Black person in this country due to gentrification, rent, and predatory lending, but the budget cuts also plan to cut Fair Housing Initiative Program funding by 2.6 million dollars. This program was put in place to reduce discrimination in housing practices, yet like most other initiatives that will help Black people, this Administration has not prioritized helping communities of color. Black people continue to face issues securing mortgages, despite their ability to show they can repay their home loans. Moreover, Black people have traditionally been the target of housing discrimination across the country and it’s nothing new. Issues like redlining, a practice where the federal government disinvested in Black communities and made it nearly impossible to own homes and predatory lending schemes that made it nearly impossible for individuals to pay their mortgage, it seems that HUD’s focus should be finding ways to help Black people build housing wealth.
To be sure, cities like Los Angeles have already started considering and creating rainy day funds to help vulnerable populations as the cities brace for cuts to HUD funding and other budget cuts. But we need assurance that cities are considering funding that will help Black communities, who have traditionally been targets of housing discrimination.
We must ensure that Black people can afford to live in communities where they have been pushed out and ignored for years.
Some immediate solutions are to look into whether your city has a rainy day fund that will supplement the HUD budget cuts. If not, it may be worth discussing with your local councilmembers. Additionally, TREE and other organizations teach financial literacy in community-based programs, a key component to understanding wealth creation. Next, many organizations are fighting predatory lending schemes and states along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau may have good resources if you feel this may be an issue in your community. Lastly, sign up to be a tester! Many state housing groups and agencies have testers who check to see whether a housing development or development may discriminate against protected groups of people.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in volunteering with TREE regarding our economic justice initiatives.