Black History Month is especially significant this year as events from 2020 highlighted how far we still have to go to create a world where there is equal opportunity for everyone. People of color, African Americans in particular, are behind by generations in terms of equality. This disparity can be seen in every sector: health care, education, employment, and especially housing.
Discrimination in US housing policy as recent as a few decades ago kept Black people from being able to have access to credit, buy homes, live in better neighborhoods, move up in class and build wealth. Because of this, there is a wide racial gap in homeownership rates today: 74% of White people in the US own homes vs. 44% of Black people. The wealth gap is even greater.
Historic discrimination in U.S. housing policy — particularly discrimination against Black Americans — is one of the chief drivers of racial inequities that persist today. Organizations like Habitat that work on housing must understand that history, and it must inform our work moving forward. … We must commit to doing the work in our practices, our programs and our networks that brings equity to our efforts and helps bring justice to the communities in which we work. We must, throughout our ministry, do a better job of connecting issues of racial and social injustice with historic barriers to affordable housing and working to eradicate those barriers. … In addition to being a space where people of all races, all faiths and all backgrounds can come together in common cause, we commit to being actively antiracist and to affirming, through word and action, that Black Lives Matter and that our communities and systems must further this fundamental truth.
–Jonathan Reckford, CEO Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International published a policy paper in August 2020 that describes the history of housing discrimination in the US and how that history still impacts Black families today. The paper includes recommendations as we look to find meaningful ways to create a more racially equitable and just society.
Habitat’s vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live. It’s going to take more than building houses to make that happen. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We have a long way to go and a lot of work to do. With your help, we believe we can get there.