Examining Race and Housing Policy

Housing Opportunity Critical to Ensuring Greater Racial Equity; Foreclosure Crisis Disproportionately Affected Black and Latino Households

A few years ago, over a 16 week period, City Limits and Enterprise Community Partners featured prominent New Yorkers’ views on how race and housing policy intersect to create a legacy that must be addressed.  These New Yorkers’ views are unfortunately still very relevant both today and across state lines in New Jersey.

The articles not only express views but also identify next steps for addressing inequity.  They are very timely given the current discussion around how to build racial equity in our homeless service system. Click here to read more about the recent Summit on Building Racial Equity in our Homeless Service Systems: A Conversation on Race and Homelessness.

The article, “Building Justice: How to Talk About Racial Equity in a Way That Gets Done” points out how critical housing is to ensuring greater racial equity. “Housing is the single largest expense families have and the location of that housing matters greatly – especially for racial and ethnic minorities who are often locked out of more affluent, opportunity-rich communities.”

Just one of the many ways that article tells us we can address racial equity and build more inclusive communities includes examining the data on racial disparities.

One data source and perspective on data on New Jersey’s homeless population is NJCounts. NJCounts 2019 revealed the racial disparity in the population experiencing homelessness in New Jersey. Persons identifying as African American were overrepresented in the homeless numbers counted on the night of NJCounts 2019.

Disparities along racial lines in the population experiencing homelessness are seen in a number of areas. NJCounts 2019 found persons identifying as Black or African American made up the majority of sheltered persons, 3,678 persons (51.5%), and unsheltered persons, 698 persons (49.4%), identified in the Point-in-Time count.

In New Jersey, according to NJCounts 2019, persons identifying as Black or African American are overrepresented in the population experiencing homelessness and living below the poverty level. While 13% of the general population, persons identifying as Black or African American are 24% of the population in poverty and 49.4% of the population experiencing homelessness.

The gap in wealth between white families and Black and Latino families contributes to racial disparity. The article, “Building Justice: The Lasting Racial Stain of the Foreclosure Crisis” points out that as a result of the foreclosure crisis, “Although the majority of homeowners affected by the foreclosure crisis were White, homeowners of color were twice as likely to lose their homes as a result of the crisis. Because the majority of Black and Latino family wealth is tied to the home that they own, they were doubly hit by the foreclosure crisis: They were at greater risk of foreclosure due to predatory lending and other factors, and their wealth disproportionately suffered from the steep drop in property values that followed the crisis.”

And households that lose their homes due to foreclosure are both at risk of homelessness and the loss of wealth tied to home ownership may be very difficult to regain.

Click here for more in the series from City Limits and Enterprise Community Partners that includes view on how race and housing policy intersect with other issues including redlining, schools and education, public housing, health.