• Kathy Smith

Centering Racial Justice in Housing Policy

This information was prepared by The Renters’ Roundtable, which is a group of advocates, policy experts, and people with lived experience of housing insecurity united by the goal of strengthening protections for renters in Colorado.

RR and Racial Justice 11.24.2020
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The Renters Roundtable recognizes Colorado’s housing disparities are rooted in past and current racist housing policies and practices. The consequences of policies like the Indian Removal Act, the Federal Housing Administration’s segregation efforts including Redlining, and restrictive zoning policies are still felt today.[i] We have a shared responsibility to enact antiracist policies that bolster housing security for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC).

Racist policies and practices create barriers to safe, stable, affordable housing for communities of color:

BIPOC renters experience greater housing cost burden. Half of all Black, Hispanic, and Indigenous renters are extremely cost-burdened, meaning they spend more than 50% of their income on housing.[ii] For many, this means making the impossible decision between paying for housing, food, medical care, or childcare.

BIPOC face the highest rates of eviction. Nationwide analyses indicate that roughly 80% of people facing eviction identify as Black or Latinx. One study showed that Black households are twice as likely to experience eviction compared to their white counterparts.[iii] Overall, Black women with children face the highest rate of eviction.[iv] The results of a 2017 study on evictions in Denver mirror these trends.[v]

BIPOC experience lower housing quality. While 4.7% of Black and 8.5% of Hispanic households are overcrowded, only 1.2% of white non-Hispanic households experience overcrowding. Immigrants without proper documentation report more structural deficiencies in their homes than other immigrants, as well as more overcrowding.[vi]

BIPOC have lower homeownership rates. Black Coloradans are 50% less likely than white Coloradans to own a home, and while Colorado’s Hispanic population is the fastest growing, less than half own a home.[vii] Indigenous individuals in Colorado experienced the most significant increase in poverty and decrease in homeownership of any racial group following the Great Recession.[viii]

BIPOC experience homelessness at disproportionately high rates. In Colorado, Black individuals comprise 17% of those experiencing homelessness despite being only 4% of the state’s overall population. Native Americans comprised 6% of the homeless population despite being 1% of Colorado’s population. Meanwhile, whites make up a relatively smaller proportion of the homeless population compared to the overall population.[ix]

In order to undo racist policies and practices that exist and remove barriers to housing security for communities of color, Colorado’s lawmakers should prioritize racial equity in advancing policies that meaningfully increase access to safe, sanitary, and affordable housing, prevent eviction and homelessness, and ease the path to homeownership.

[i] Gross, T. (2017, May 3). A ‘forgotten history’ of how the U.S. government segregated America. NPR. ://www.npr.org/2017/05/03/526655831/a-forgotten-history-of-how-the-u-s-government-segregated-america. [ii] Bell Policy Center. (2018). Housing: calling Colorado home. https://www.bellpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Housing-Guide-to-Economic-Mobility.pdf. [iii] Benfer, E., Robinson, D. B., Butler, S., Edmonds, L., Gilman, S., McKay, K. L., Neumann, Z., Owens, L., Steinkamp, N., & Yentel, D. (2020, August 7). The COVID-19 eviction crisis. The Aspen Institute. https://www.aspeninstitute.org/blog-posts/the-covid-19-eviction-crisis-an-estimated-30-40-million-people-in-america-are-at-risk/ [iv] Matthew Desmond. (2014, March). Poor black women are evicted at alarming rates, setting off a chain of hardship. MacArthur Foundation. https://www.macfound.org/media/files/HHM_Research_Brief_-_Poor_Black_Women_Are_Evicted_at_Alarming_Rates.pdf [v]Hasvold, A., & Regenbogen, J. (2017). Facing eviction alone. https://www.coloradocoalition.org/sites/default/files/2017-09/Facing%20Eviction%20Alone%209-11-17.pdf [vi] Colorado Health Institute. (2019). Home Equity: A Vision of Housing Security, Health and Opportunity. https://www.coloradohealthinstitute.org/research/vision-housing-security-health-and-opportunity. [vii] Bell Policy Center. (2018). Guide to economic mobility. https://www.bellpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/Guide-to-Economic-Mobility-FINAL.pdf [viii] Parsons, M. (2019, December). Racial wealth gap: homeownership and credit. Bell Policy Center. https://www.bellpolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Racial-Wealth-Gap-Homeownership-Credit.pdf [ix] HUD Exchange. (2020). CoC analysis tool: race and ethnicity. https://www.hudexchange.info/resource/5787/coc-analysis-tool-race-and-ethnicity/

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