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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 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


Human Toll: A Public History of 35W

In this entry of the Race and Housing series, we review a museum exhibit that examines the history of highway 35W and its effects on the community. 

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How Realtors Can Help Combat Historic Racism

More real estate agents are trying to be proactive in helping BIPOC buyers become first-time homebuyers. Here’s how they are doing it. 

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Roots of Racial Wealth Inequities in Minnesota

As Minnesota grows more racially diverse, it’s important to examine the historical policies and actions that created, and continue to perpetuate, racial inequities throughout the state. 

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Housing and Heart Health

The quality and availability of housing affects health and well-being in a variety of ways. Read more about these factors and what changes can help.

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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.

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Student Loan Debt

The cost of post-secondary education disproportionately impacts Black Americans, hindering efforts to rebuild generational wealth.

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Giving to Advance Racial Equity

Donations make Twin Cities Habitat's mission of racial equity in housing possible. Learn about the different ways your gift can make a difference.

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Bias in Real Estate

There are many harmful practices that continue the disenfranchisement of people of color in the real estate industry, despite the passing of the Fair Housing Act.

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Homeownership Preservation

Twin Cities Habitat's A Brush With Kindness program helps homeowners address repairs that could otherwise lead to foreclosures.

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Minneapolis Zoning

Exclusionary zoning practices have historically left people of color with minimal options for homeownership. Minneapolis is taking steps in the right direction, but more change is needed.

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.


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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.


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 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.
  • 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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