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    Why race and housing?

    Housing and racial equity are inextricably linked.

    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. As a community, we need to be as intentional in closing these disparities as we were in creating them.

    At Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, racial equity and anti-racism are embedded in our mission, vision, and values and we’re proud that about 80% of our homebuyer clients are households of color.

    We also recognize that the scars of racism in banking and social services are deep, and Habitat’s good intentions have not been enough. Throughout 2021, we are working hard to better serve Foundational Black Americans—those who are descendants of enslaved Africans. We aim to transform into an equity organization, build trust with the Black community, and deliver a program that is relevant for more households, especially those who've historically been shut out of homeownership through redlining, racial covenants, and systemic racism.

    It’s on all of us to build an equitable community where every family can thrive. Together, we strive toward the day when Black Lives Matter is reflected not only in our protest signs, but in all the systems and values that drive our community.

    Our Race & Housing blog series below explores the history of how racist housing policies were created, why our disparities persist, and what we can learn from stories of resistance. And in 2021, you’ll start to read more articles on specific actions you can take to build racial equity in the Twin Cities. We hope you’ll join us.

    Race and Housing Blog Series

    Chris header photo

    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.

    St. Paul Redlined

    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. 

    GI Bill

    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.

    Kristen Delegard blog

    Racial Covenants

    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.

    Dr. Lewis header

    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.

    Nick Khaliq closeup

    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.

    race and housing

    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.

    President Johnson signing Fair Housing Act in 1968- Walter Mondale looks (above to the right)

    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.

    Habitat houses Resized

    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.

    Heat Islands - Flowers by Leigh Patrick

    Urban Heat Islands

    The impacts of redlining are vast – and include the creation of urban heat islands, which cause a wide range of health and social issues by increasing the air temperature of individual neighborhoods within a city.

    Redlining and Resistance - Featured

    Mapping Disinvestment & Displacement

    Dr. Brittany Lewis explains how disinvestment impacts the housing crisis and the rate of gentrification in the Twin Cities, with a focus on North Minneapolis.


    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.

    Take Action

    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:

    Learn more

    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.


    More excellent videos you should check out:


    Local Organizations

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