July 7, 2022
Each year, the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies releases a seminal report detailing key statistics, issues, and trends in the nation’s housing. Though certain details change year-by-year, the reports annually remind us of the housing market’s persistently regressive and racially unequal nature. The most recent report for 2021-2022 details how record-breaking increases in home values and rents have left many Americans, and particularly Black and Brown Americans, locked out of the home market. This is despite the fact that households of color have made up the majority of U.S. household growth. It additionally shows how record home equity gains have disproportionately benefited white and wealthy homeowners, while renters, low-to-moderate-income households, and households of color face dire prospects of a continual housing affordability squeeze. To elaborate, here are some of the report’s key details:
These issues highlighted by the report have ramifications for the entire nation, though, as already emphasized, their immediate impacts will be most felt by households of color, low-to-moderate income households, and renters. Given that households of color have been a key driver of U.S. household growth for the last decade even as U.S. population growth has otherwise slowed (last year the population grew 0.1 percent, its slowest rate since 1900), ensuring that households of color have access to both the financial resources necessary to afford homes and a supply of affordable homes will be crucial for stabilizing the housing market moving forward. This is perhaps the driving reason behind the creation of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae’s first ever Equitable Housing Finance (EHF) plans in 2022, which seek to help close the racial homeownership gap by providing a range of new special home financing programs targeted to Black homeowners and renters. Hopefully, various levels of government will also work to continue or expand upon relief programs that help avoid home deterioration, tax liens, and foreclosure. Such programs can help maintain existing levels of Black, Hispanic, and low-to-moderate income homeownership amid price surges that also connect to increased home maintenance costs and rising property taxes that can disproportionately burden these same groups.
Additionally, given that most new housing supply coming online in the near future exceeds median home prices and rental costs, it is crucial to expand affordable housing programs and to stabilize naturally occurring affordable housing (i.e. housing that is affordable without government designation or subsidy) where it exists to help quickly alleviate rising housing costs and avoid potential spikes in evictions, displacement, and homelessness. Beyond the disruption and traumas these events create for individual households, they are also costly to local communities, disruptive to labor markets, and reinforce patterns of segregation.
Without redress, this latest housing report also shows that the racial wealth gap will only widen as housing equity disproportionately grows in the hands of wealthy white households and rising rents cut disproportionately into the wealth of households of color. Without redress, the report also shows that the hot housing market, even as it cools, bodes poorly for the future stability of renters, LMI households, and households of color, as well as the communities they inhabit.
At the Redress Movement, we are interested in building community power to address these and other issues related to segregation by agitating for actions of redress responsive to segregation’s history. To engage with more news stories related to redress and to hear more about our work, sign up to join our mailing list and keep an eye out for news updates in this section of our website. Also be sure to explore our resource pages where you can learn more about the history and consequences of segregation, read through the vocabulary of segregation, or use our Citizens’ Guide to discover how segregation affects your community.
–The Redress Movement Research Team