Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Affordable Housing

I can recall when Community Housing Development Corporation was first founded in 1990. It was in response to the needs for affordable housing and the elimination of racial disparities within the industry relative to African American’s having equitable access to housing. Especially living in the Bay Area, and the rising cost of housing over the past 30 years, coupled with stagnant income within our communities, something had to be done to address the problem. Now almost 30 years later, we’re still battling some of the same disparities, which causes me to take a closer look at diversity, equity and inclusion in the affordable housing industry.

 

Diversity in the housing market was a promise of the Fair Housing Act. This past April, fifty years ago, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act of 1968. In that landmark legislation (FHA), the nation took a major step forward in realizing Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream of erasing housing inequality in all American communities. For decades there was bias and discrimination, but upon adoption of the Act, the FHA prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing. The goal was to make housing markets more open by holding developers, owners, property managers, and lenders accountable to eliminating exclusionary practices and attitudes in their decisions about minorities, and other identities, being afforded the opportunity to build their foundation for life’s success, thru purchasing or renting a home. Then question now is, are there still unconscious biases and prejudicial practices in the housing market?

To answer that question, we, along with other industry leaders, must look at and address more questions:

·        Are we looking at the people who need affordable housing assistance as a resource to be cultivated rather than a problem to be fixed?

·        Are we focusing on equity (fairness) or equality (sameness) when looking for solutions to affordable housing?

·        Are we equipped to collect and report data that identifies where disparities exists?

·        Does there remain a shortage of affordable housing for low and extremely low-income families?

·        Are we educating our communities on real estate ownership as a bridge to wealth creation?

·        Do all ethnicities have the unrestricted right to invest in real property, as well as rent it?

·        Are we partnering with like minded organizations to make a bigger impact in advocating for affordable housing for all?

 

There remains a shortage of affordable housing for low and extremely low-income people in the Bay Area, which greatly impacts their long-term economic security. As an organization we’re looking at how to advocate for the legal protection for renters and homeowners; increase the sheer number of housing opportunities for low-income families; and how to educate our communities about their financial stability, so there is true equity and inclusion in the marketplace. Today, CHDC provides affordable housing and other support services to low-income communities throughout the Bay Area and we’re focusing on Race, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in our operations and decision-making policies. We’re joining the larger conversation about racial equity within the affordable housing market, conversations that leads to action. We hope you’ll join. It’s more than talking about equity, equality, diversity, and inclusion. But that’s where we can start.