Racist housing policies and practices in the past created the massive disparities between Black and White Minnesotans today. We're learning from the past to build a better future.
Why race and housing?
Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has a core value of Equity and Inclusion which states: “We promote racial equity and strive to increase diversity, inclusion, and cultural competency in all aspects of our organization.”
To promote racial equity, we need to reckon with the fact that Minnesota has some of the widest racial disparities in the nation—in education, health, economics, criminal justice, and especially housing. And all of them can be tied back to discriminatory housing practices used throughout the 20th century. In other words, our disparities didn't come about by accident. Racist policies created them. We need to be as intentional in closing those disparities as we were in creating them.
This is also clear: The systemic racism that created the disparities between Black and White families in Minnesota is the same systemic racism that killed George Floyd. Read our response to the uprisings for racial justice and learn about organizations working toward racial equity in our community.
A first step is to learn from the history:
How were racist policies created?
If the policies were ended, why did racial disparities persist?
And what stories of resistance can we uplift and learn from?
The blog series below explores that history—from long ago to today, and from a national to local perspective. We also link to other resources for learning, as well as actions you can take.
Together, we can ensure everyone can share in the prosperity of the Twin Cities.
Race and Housing Blog Series
Reflections on a year at Habitat
Chris Coleman, President & CEO of Twin Cities Habitat, reflects on the painful history of racism in housing. He shows how ending these racial disparities is a critical part of Habitat's work.
Government's Role in Housing Segregation
From New Deal policies to redlining, the government either cemented segregation where it existed or created segregation where it didn't yet exist—including in the Twin Cities.
The GI Bill
The greatest expansion of homeownership in the U.S. came with the GI Bill after WWII. But African Americans who served in the war were mostly locked out of those opportunities.
Dr. Kirsten Delegard of the Mapping Prejudice Project explains how tens of thousands of racial covenants explicitly prevented people of color from buying homes in many Twin Cities neighborhoods.
Redlining and Resistance
Dr. Brittany Lewis shares stories of how local leaders chose to concentrate poverty and disinvest in communities of color—and how the community organized and fought back.
Rondo and I-94
When I-94 was built, it ripped the heart out of Rondo, St. Paul's largest Black neighborhood. Local leader Nick Khaliq shares what it was like growing up in Rondo and the lasting impacts of I-94.
Community Reinvestment Act
The CRA was enacted in 1977 to reverse the effects of redlining. It continues to benefit low- and moderate-income neighborhoods, but proposed changes threaten its value. Read our stance.
Mortgage Interest Deduction
The Home Mortgage Interest Deduction is the largest housing subsidy in the U.S. and its benefits flow disproportionately to wealthier families. Learn how this tax benefit upholds the racial wealth gap and read about proposed alternatives.
Fair Housing Act Part 1 (1968-2015)
The Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 and immediately divided leaders on how it should be enforced. Racial segregation and disparities continue to plague our communities.
Fair Housing Act Part 2 (2016-2020)
The Fair Housing Act has lost more of its power with the end of Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and changes to the handling of disparate impact.
More coming soon
As we continue to publish blogs on this topic, we'll add more to this page. Be sure to subscribe to our blog at the form below to see the latest topics.
Why is Habitat part of the solution?
Many Americans get help buying their first home. In fact, nearly one-third of first-time homebuyers get gifts from family or friends to help with their down payment, and White homebuyers are twice as likely as Black homebuyers to get family help for a down payment (source: Shapiro, Thomas M. Toxic Inequality, 2017).
Habitat for Humanity provides that boost for first-time homebuyers. This lays the foundation for better health and education outcomes, higher quality of life, and generations of wealth building.
At Twin Cities Habitat, we know we need to do better, and continually strive for racial equity in all aspects of our work. Here are just a few of the ways our staff and board are taking action now:
Learn from and share the history as we develop the Race & Housing Blog Series.
Amplify the movement for racial equity, including at our Women of Habitat Virtual Luncheon in October 2020.
Hire an Equity and Inclusion Director and commit to continuing and expanding our Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion work with staff, board, and leadership.
Thoroughly examine our internal practices and policies to better meet the needs of the African American community, including clients, supporters, staff, and community partners.
You can expect more updates from us on these and other initiatives.
We'll continue to add action steps as we learn more throughout the Race and Housing blog series. Here are a few ways you can take action now:
Reach out to friends, family, and neighbors and have conversations about this history and the racism that still pervades our society, and help one another take action to build the equitable community we want to see.
Check out these additional resources for a deeper dive into the topics above.
Watch this short video from National Public Radio called "Housing Segregation and Redlining in America: A Short History." In under seven minutes, the video breaks down how discrimination in housing policy had rippled into so many areas of life, especially in cities. Warning: there is one instance of profanity in the first few seconds.
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