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Race and Housing

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.

A Brief History of Race & Housing

Why is a housing nonprofit focusing on race?

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. We’re proud that about 80% of our homebuyer clients are households of color.

But in 2019 we were prompted to take a closer look at that number. Of that 80%, Foundational Black Americans—Black or African American Minnesotans who are descendants of slavery in the United States—were a very small portion. Foundational Black Americans face the steepest barriers to accessing a mortgage and the widest disparities in rates of homeownership.

We recognized that we needed to make our programs work better for Foundational Black Americans, and are working to do just that through our Advancing Black Homeownership program.

As an organization, we are building forward with intentionality – centering our work around those most historically impacted by housing discrimination, redlining, racial covenants, and systemic racist housing practices. We are working to build trust with Foundational Black Americans, and to provide a path to homeownership that lowers unfair barriers. We don't see historical barriers like redlining or racial covenants now, but systemic racism, racist lending practices, and generational financial trauma have effectively taken their place.

We know that when we improve how we serve those most impacted by housing discrimination, our organization will be better for everyone who works with us.

Our Race & Housing blog series below explores the history of how racist housing policies were created, why disparities persist, what we can learn from stories of resistance, and—most importantly—what we can and should do differently to bring about change. To find out how you can create a more vibrant and equitable community with Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity, read about our Build Forward Together strategic plan. Find additional helpful books, videos, and other resources near the end of this page

Take Action

Here are a few ways you can take action now:


Learn More

Check out these additional resources to learn more about race and housing.



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:

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