Traditionally, home ownership has been the way many families have created generational wealth. Yet, for far too many, hard work alone is insufficient to achieve the goal of home ownership. This is due to a long, deep history of systemic racism and exclusion that have contributed to segregated neighborhoods and limited the economic benefits of homeownership for people of color.
Discriminatory housing policies have concentrated the effects of poverty, residential segregation, destabilization, displacement, and gentrification on communities of color. The resulting disparities and inequities have led to persistent undervaluation of properties owned by people of color and systemic barriers to safe, affordable, and accessible housing for people of color and other underserved groups.
Housing justice is the process and outcome of establishing a housing system in which housing is a public good and human right––and therefore, everyone has access to affordable and dignified housing. It is grounded in an understanding of our country’s history of systemic racism and its racialized housing system and centers on the lived experiences of people impacted by these systems.
We recognize solving the growing housing crisis requires addressing racial inequities and restructuring policies and systems to ensure positive life outcomes for all people. We also recognize this will require challenging the false narratives that people of color cannot access or own homes because of personal failure. These narratives ignore the inequitable and often complex policies and systems that create barriers and make it difficult for some people to own a home.
The Housing Justice Narrative Project
To counter the false narratives, we participated in The Housing Justice Narrative project, a joint project between Race Forward, Community Change and PolicyLine to advance a pro-housing justice narrative. The initiative brings together local, state, and national housing justice advocates working on housing justice campaigns to accelerate a vision of racial justice and homes for all. The Housing Justice project equips organizers, advocates, and community leaders with research, tools, and strategies needed to collectively shift current false narratives, and to facilitate healthy discussion and debate around housing to achieve a just and equitable future with homes for all.
The Housing, Land, and Development Project
Complementing the collaborative efforts of the Housing Justice Narrative Partnership, Race Forward launched the Housing, Land, and Development (HLD) Project, which will bring a racial justice lens to the housing and development sectors, and provide a network for policymakers working in those sectors to share ideas, challenges, strategies, and tools.
The HLD project’s efforts are to ensure housing is viewed as a public good and wealth building opportunity for communities of color as it is for white communities. The four strategies we’ll use to leverage our recent investments in housing narrative research, community capacity building partnerships, and expansion of our Government Alliance on Race and Equity, include:
- Growing Power by building bridges between community-led housing initiatives and allies in local government
- Transforming Culture by harnessing the power of housing justice narratives, arts, and culture
- Transforming Institutions by organizing with racial equity practitioners in housing and planning agencies to accelerate the transformation of government and develop race-conscious housing and land use policy
- Transforming Policy by advocating for changes in the housing financing system and development sector