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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.


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 2023, 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 2023, 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

Breaking Down Systemic Inequality in Voting and Housing for Black Americans

For generations, state and local governments systematically denied Black...

Barriers Black Homebuyers Face

Black families in Minnesota face unique challenges when trying to buy a...

Race and Housing Series: How Realtors Can Help Combat Historic Racism

Twin Cities Habitat believes it’s important to learn from our national and...

Race and Housing Series: Human Toll: A Public History of 35W

Twin Cities Habitat believes it’s important to learn from our national and...

Fannie Mae Awards $1 Million to Advance Black Homeownership in the Twin Cities

Advancing racial equity is a cornerstone of Twin Cities Habitat for...

How to Build Generational Wealth Through Homeownership

Renting and owning a home is very different. When you rent an apartment or...

Roots of Racial Wealth Inequities In Minnesota

Minnesota and the Twin Cities regularly rank highly on quality of life...

Home Appraisals and Housing Discrimination

Most people don’t think much about the intersection of racism and the home...

How Realtors Are Working to Advance Racial Equity in Housing

Realtors can play a critical part in reducing the racial disparities in...

Race & Housing: The Racialized Impact of Student Loan Debt on Homeownership and Wealth Building

Guest Blog by Shoreé Ingram, Director of Equity and Inclusion

There is an...

Giving to Advance Racial Equity in Housing

You may know that the Twin Cities often sits near the top of many quality...

Race and Housing Series: Housing and Heart Health

This blog has been updated to include information about a recent Twin...

Race & Housing: Bias in Real Estate

From the outside, buying a home can sometimes look easier than it is. In...

Why Preserving Homeownership is a Racial Justice Issue

Guest Blog by Mike Robertson, A Brush with Kindness Program Manager


Six things you might not know about affordable housing

You might hear the term “affordable housing” used often, whether in the...

An Inspiring Conversation with Racial Justice Activists [VIDEO]

It was a conversation we'll never forget. Last week, at our Women of...

Meet Josie Duffy Rice, Racial Justice Activist

After George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police on May 25, protests...

Race and Housing Series: Urban Heat Islands

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has a core value of Equity and Inclusion...

Meet Dr. Josie Johnson, Minnesota Civil Rights Icon

For centuries, people of color in the United States have been...

Race and Housing Series: Fair Housing Act Part 2 (2016-2020)

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has a core value of Equity and Inclusion...

Race and Housing Series: Fair Housing Act Part 1 (1968-2015)

Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity has a core value of Equity and Inclusion...

Race and Housing Series: Mortgage Interest Deduction

We continue to process the pain and hope of our nation’s uprising for...

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 have and are taking action now:

  • Learn from and share the history as we develop the Race and Housing Blog Series.
  • Amplify the movement for racial equity.
  • We've hired a Director of Equity and Inclusion and commit to continuing and expanding our DEI 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:

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