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How Advocacy Can Advance Racial Equity in Housing

How Advocacy Can Advance Racial Equity in Housing

Co-written by Emily Kirkevold and Muluk Eltag, Policy & Advocacy Coordinators

The Twin Cities' housing shortage has caused rising housing prices and a limited supply of affordable entry-level homeownership opportunities for low- to moderate-income families. All of this has affected communities of color at greater levels than White families due to the history of racially restrictive housing practices. Minnesota has seen this firsthand through redlining, racial covenants, and interstate construction through Black neighborhoods like Rondo in St. Paul. Even now, Black and Brown families currently face racism and biases when appraising their homes, applying for home mortgages, and putting offers on homes in the open market.

While White families have been given the opportunities to thrive and create generational wealth through homeownership, families of color have been shut out, leading to Minnesota’s stark racial homeownership gap. A full 77% of White families own their homes, compared to just 19% of Black families—that is a gap of 58% This has only increased over the past century because of decades of racist housing practices. To tackle this problem, it is essential for all levels of government to make reparative steps in diminishing this gap while creating long-term affordable housing solutions for the communities they represent.   

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, in addition to its program services and construction arms, is a strong advocate for vital affordable homeownership funding as well as policies to promote equitable housing solutions across the state. Twin Cities Habitat’s Government Affairs staff are present at the federal, state, and local levels to advocate for a variety of priorities. 

Advocates meet with their representative at the Capitol
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity advocates meet with their representative at Habitat on the Hill

Click here to read about the 2023 State Legislative Priorities and the 2022 Local Level Priorities we have advocated for in the last year.  

Advocacy plays a crucial role in closing the homeownership gap. The gap between homeownership rates of White and minority communities has persisted for decades. Advocacy can help to address this issue by promoting policies that support affordable housing, fair lending practices, and access to homebuyer education and credit repair. 
 
Promoting policies that support affordable housing is one of the key ways to reduce the racial disparities in homeownership. This can include initiatives like the Neighborhood Homes Investment Act which provides tax credits for developers who build affordable homeownership units, as well as funding for programs that provide down payment assistance to first-generation homebuyers. By making housing more affordable, more families can achieve their dream of homeownership. 
 
In addition to promoting affordable housing, advocacy can also help to address issues of discrimination in lending practices. By ensuring that all borrowers are treated fairly and supported into successful homeownership, we can help to level the playing field and increase homeownership rates for minority communities. Habitat housing advocates are encouraged to support our work in achieving these goals by signing up for advocacy alerts and taking action in support whether virtually or at our in-person events! 

To receive updates and opportunities to get involved sign up for Twin Cities Habitat’s action alerts!

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