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National Equity Atlas;
The coronavirus pandemic continues to both illuminate and deepen the challenges of structural racism and housing inequity in the United States. While rent relief programs are sunsetting and rents are skyrocketing, millions of renters negatively impacted by the pandemic's economic fallout face crushing rent debt, eviction, and homelessness. And the renters who have been hit the hardest are disproportionately people of color and people living on low incomes. This extreme precarity stems from a housing crisis that has plagued communities for decades. At the onset of the pandemic, there was not a single state, region, or county in the US where a full-time worker earning the minimum wage could afford a two-bedroom rental home, and nearly half of Black and Latinx renters (and more than a third of all renters) were paying unaffordable rent.Not only is there an overall shortage of affordable rental homes, but they are rarely located in "high-opportunity" neighborhoods that have high-quality schools, safe streets, clean air, parks, reliable transit, and proximity to jobs, retail, and services. Instead, they are concentrated in disinvested neighborhoods that lack these "opportunity structures" and are often replete with harms ranging from polluted air to decrepit infrastructure to excessive surveillance and police violence. The overcrowding of affordable homes in lower opportunity neighborhoods and lack of affordable homes in higher opportunity neighborhoods have significant negative consequences for people living on low incomes. Decades of research underscore that living in a neighborhood lacking critical opportunity structures negatively affects health, access to educational and economic opportunities, and life outcomes — especially for children. This uneven "geography of opportunity," or access to neighborhood conditions that influence positive life opportunities and outcomes, is a defining hallmark of American metropolitan regions — and it is one that is deeply rooted in systemic racism. In the past, racially discriminatory policies, including redlining, urban renewal, and government-backed home loans (almost exclusively for white homebuyers), created geographic concentrations of opportunity and disadvantage throughout regions. Today, policies that are not explicitly discriminatory yet have racially inequitable impacts (e.g., exclusionary zoning), maintain these patterns of spatial inequality — effectively locking many people of color out of educational and economic opportunity.This analysis is the first in a series exploring the changing geography of opportunity in American metropolitan regions, building from our earlier analysis of the San Francisco Bay Area. In that study, we found that only 5 percent of census tracts in the region had median market rents that were affordable to a renter household of two full-time workers each earning $15 per hour. Those affordable neighborhoods were located on the outskirts of the region, and 92 percent of them were "low opportunity," according to the Child Opportunity Index produced by researchers at Brandeis University. Our findings underscored the pattern of regional resegregation in the Bay Area described by Urban Habitat, in which tech-driven growth has been pushing low-wage service-sector workers out of core cities to the outer parts of the region.Expanding our lens to the largest 100 metros, in this analysis we ask three questions: First, how does neighborhood affordability for low-income households differ across metros? Second, how does neighborhood affordability vary for Black, Latinx, and white households across metros? And third, is the geography of opportunity for low-income households and households of color shrinking over time, restricting housing choices to an even smaller number of neighborhoods far away from the locus of economic activity? We answer these questions using data on median market rents by zip code from Zillow and metro-level census data on household income overall and for Black, Latinx, and white households for the years 2013 and 2019 to capture the period of economic recovery between the Great Recession and the pandemic. Forthcoming analyses in this series will examine the changing geography of opportunity for Asian and Pacific Islander communities and Native American communities across the country.Using median market rent as a measure of neighborhood affordability means two important things: First, we are focusing on the costs faced by households searching for available rental housing in a metro, not the cost of all rental housing units in a metro. (In other words, we are excluding the housing units of incumbent renters, which tend to have lower rents.) Second, given that a median means that half of the rents are below it and half are above it, this is a summary measure of neighborhood affordability, not a precise measure. So, affordable rentals might exist in a specific neighborhood, but they are not plentiful.To examine affordability by race/ethnicity, we define an affordable zip code as one with a median market rent that is affordable to households at the median household income for that racial/ethnic group within that metro. For example, in 2019, 13 of 350 zip codes were affordable to Black households at the median income for all Black households in Chicago ($76,394) and 48 zip codes were affordable to Latinx households at the median income for all Latinx households in Chicago ($101,643). In the proceeding analysis, the terminology "median-income Black households" and "Black households at the median income" refer to Black households at the median household income for Black households within that metro. This is true for Latinx and white households as well.
Right To Counsel NYC Coalition;
RTCNYC and TakeRoot Justice conducted a participatory action research project to investigate the impact of Right to Counsel on tenant organizing among low-income tenants. We conducted focus groups with tenants and with housing organizers. Utilizing a participatory action research model, tenants and organizers participated in the development of research instruments, were trained to administer the research, facilitated focus groups, and engaged in opportunities for skill-building and leadership development.Our research shows:* Right to Counsel strengthens organizing in a variety of ways. It serves as a know-your-rights tool, helps build a base of involved tenants, and opens the door to new organizing tactics and strategies.* Tenants feel less stress and fear knowing they have the right to legal representation in court, which helps them navigate housing court with confidence and success and prompts them to take action against their landlords.* Right to Counsel creates opportunities for tenants, organizers, and attorneys to navigate relationships, share knowledge and history and provide trainings, all in the service of building the tenants' rights movement.* The Right to Counsel NYC Coalition is deliberate and successful in creating and sustaining a tenant-led infrastructure and movement-building spaces.These findings demonstrate the various ways in which the Right to Counsel meaningfully contributes to New York City's robust tenant movement. These findings also offer insight and inspiration for tenants and organizers fighting for the Right to Counsel in their cities.
RRF Foundation for Aging;
We are excited to share with you RRF Foundation for Aging's (RRF) latest issue brief in a series of publications describing the Foundation's approach to grantmaking and improving the quality of life of older people. Home Front and Center: Supporting Access to Affordable and Quality Housing gives an overview of the rise of housing insecurity for older adults, describes some of the work the Foundation is funding to promote safe and affordable housing, and invites others to join us.Our Approach to Increasing Safe, Affordable Housing for Older AdultsWhile the issue of accessible housing confronts millions of Americans, the problem is especially acute for older adults. But for those whose access to safe and affordable housing has been limited by economic inequities and discrimination, such as communities of color and LGBTQ+ individuals, the disparities of housing insecurity loom much larger. And with the end of COVID-19 eviction moratoriums, the threat of homelessness confronts many older adults with low or fixed incomes. For these reasons, and more, studies show that the ranks of homeless older people are rising fast, despite a decline in homelessness in other age groups.RRF Foundation for Aging has been at the forefront of collaborating with organizations and individuals developing and advocating for promising approaches to bolstering housing access, security, and equality for older people. Our grantees are helping older tenants of Chicago organize for better housing, advocating for stronger rights under federal housing laws, gathering data on affordable housing availability, and much more.Read our latest issue brief to learn more about our Three Strategies for More Affordable, Supportive Housing and the innovative work of our grantees in this important area.We look forward to partnering with you on this critical work!Click "Download" to access this resource online.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis, Heartland Alliance Health (HAH) aligned with multiple residential sites serving people experiencing homelessness and people with substance use disorders to expand access to oral health services for their residents through site-based outreach.The HAH Shelter-Based Oral Health pilot program aims to improve the oral health of individuals experiencing homelessness and increase access to oral health services and other services addressing social determinants of health. The pilot program aims to do this by establishing stronger partnerships with residential sites and providing on-site dental services. The long-term goals of the program are to increase knowledge for medical providers to successfully implement and deliver on-site oral health care and continue developing strategic alignment between Heartland Alliance Health and residential sites.Recognizing the importance of program implementation in effective service delivery, the evaluation of the Oral Health Service followed the World Health Organization's Implementation Framework. To understand how the service was operationalized, the outcome variables of acceptability, adoption, appropriateness, feasibility, fidelity, coverage and sustainability were assessed. Research questions were developed within each of the overarching outcome variables, sourced from relevant literature and the HAH Oral Health Logic Model (Appendix A). The logic model was co-developed by the research team, HAH Oral Health staff, and outreach partner staff. Specifically, the research questions for this report focus on the implementation of the Oral Health Service based on identified short- and mid- term outcomes.
Local Initiatives Support Corporation;
The housing instability caused by COVID has continued into 2022, even as foreclosure moratoria end at federal and state levels around the country. This report, Reclaiming Vacant Houses & Preventing Foreclosure: Lessons from LISC's New York State Vacants Initiative, a collaboration of LISC and the Urban Institute, provides lessons and evidence of outcomes of a path-breaking law and LISC initiative in reducing vacant houses and preventing foreclosures in jurisdictions across New York State.
Street homelessness is one of the most extreme, and visible, manifestations of profound injustice on the planet, but often struggles to achieve priority attention at international level. The Institute of Global Homelessness (IGH's) A Place to Call Home initiative, launched in 2017, represented a concerted effort to support cities across the globe to eradicate street homelessness. A first cohort of 13 'Vanguard Cities' committed to a specific target on ending or reducing street homelessness by December 2020. Our independent evaluation of this initiative found that:Two Vanguard Cities – Glasgow and Sydney – fully met their self-defined target reductions for end 2020. In addition, Greater Manchester, while it did not meet its exceptionally ambitious goal of 'ending all rough sleeping', recorded an impressive 52% reduction against baseline.Overall, there was evidence of reductions in targeted aspects of street homelessness in over half of the Vanguard Cities. In most of the remaining cities data limitations, sometimes as a result of COVID, meant that it was not possible to determine trends. In only one Vanguard City – Edmonton – was there an evidenced increase in street homelessness over baseline levels.Key enablers of progress in reducing street homelessness included the presence of a lead coordinating agency, and coordinated entry to homelessness services, alongside investment in specialized and evidence-based interventions, such as assertive street outreach services, individual case management and Housing First.Key barriers to progress included heavy reliance on undignified and sometimes unsafe communal shelters, a preoccupation with meeting immediate physiological needs, and sometimes perceived spiritual needs, rather than structural and system change, and a lack of emphasis on prevention. Aggressive enforcement interventions by police and city authorities, and documentary and identification barriers, were also counter-productive to attempts to reduce street homelessness.A key contextual variable between the Vanguard Cities was political will, with success in driving down street homelessness associated with high-level political commitments. An absolute lack of funds was a major challenge in all of the Global South cities, but also in resource-poor settings in the Global North. Almost all Vanguard Cities cited pressures on the affordable housing stock as a key barrier to progress, but local lettings and other policies could make a real difference.The impact of the COVID-19 crisis differed markedly across the Vanguard Cities, with people at risk of street homelessness most effectively protected in the UK and Australian cities. Responses were less inclusive and ambitious in the North American and Global South cities, with more continued use of 'shared air' shelters, albeit that in some of these contexts the pandemic prompted better coordination of local efforts to address street homelessness.IGH involvement was viewed as instrumental in enhancing the local profile, momentum and level of ambition attached to reducing street homelessness in the Vanguard Cities. IGH's added value to future cohorts of cities could be maximised via a focus on more tailored forms of support specific to the needs of each city, and also to different types of stakeholders, particularly frontline workers.
Trends in macroeconomic conditions and policy have helped to boost longer-term interest rates, including mortgage rates, over the past year. This has important implications for the wealth gap between white and Black or Hispanic households. The standard narrative is that higher interest rates, especially when combined with higher house prices and lower incomes, reduce homebuying affordability for Black and Hispanic households relative to white households. And this, in turn, implies that these households of color will find that achieving homeownership has become more difficult, thereby widening the racial wealth gap. This report illustrates that under a higher mortgage rate regime, the pace of principal reduction is slower over most of the life of a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage. Using data covering purchase loans on one-to-four family mortgages across the city of Newark, NJ, we also show that Black and Hispanic households buying in Newark obtain higher mortgage rates relative to their white peers and therefore pay more in interest for a slower principal reduction. In response, we suggest that more local policymakers assess the benefits of interest-rate buy-downs to improve affordability, close racial wealth gaps in housing, and better insulate historically marginalized communities from macroeconomic shocks.
National Women's Law Center;
Today's housing crisis—and its disproportionate impact on women of color—are rooted in centuries of underinvestment and discriminatory government policies that helped white men build wealth while stripping wealth from women and people of color. Our housing system has turned discrimination, exclusion, and exploitation into assets for the wealthy. This paper underscores that housing justice is gender justice and outlines solutions to advance housing as a human right, not a commodity.
Hub for Urban Initiatives;
In 2020, the City and County of Los Angeles recognized that unhoused, unaccompanied women are a distinct, vulnerable group of people experiencing homelessness who require unique policies, solutions, and services. Since 2001, the Downtown Women's Center (DWC) has conducted the Women's Needs Assessment (WNA) every three years to survey the the needs and characteristics of women experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles as well as the conditions they face. Funded by the Los Angeles County Homeless Initiative, the 2022 Women's Needs Assessment will be the first conducted countywide. DWC and the Homeless Initiative engaged the Urban Institute, in partnership with the Hub for Urban Initiatives, to conduct this expanded assessment. The research team is applying a mixed-methods, community-based approach to intentionally elevate the voices of unaccompanied women experiencing homelessness. As part of this approach, the research team conducted listening sessions with women across the county. This brief contains the findings from those listening sessions, including women's experiences within the homelessness response system and what they are looking for in housing and homeless services.
On any given night in 2020, nearly 50,000 people endured unsheltered homelessness in Los Angeles County. In response to stagnating progress on placing people in housing, local and statewide agencies have been experimenting with various distinct strategies commonly referred to as "master leasing." In practice, these master leasing strategies vary dramatically in terms of legal responsibilities, opportunities, limitations, and implementation costs. The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation engaged the Urban Institute to explore the feasibility and potential infrastructure of a master leasing strategy in Los Angeles. This report categorizes different master leasing strategies, discusses their associated opportunities and limitations, examines potential infrastructure models, and provides a financial framework for understanding costs.
Having a safe, affordable, and quality place to call home is fundamental to individual, family, and community life. Across the US, however, people and communities experience high rates of housing insecurity, a reality fueled by historical and ongoing discriminatory practices and racist housing policies. To remedy these and other inequities, a growing number of advocates, organizers, policymakers, and researchers are calling for a structural overhaul of the country's housing system. They aim to dismantle the factors that contribute to housing instability, so that everyone—regardless of their race, income, gender identity, disability, and/or sexuality—can live in a safe, affordable home.This report explores the concept of "housing justice" as a framework for confronting and repairing housing inequality and community harm on a structural level. We unpack key principles and precedents of the housing justice framework, arriving at an initial working definition of housing justice: "Increasing access to safe, affordable housing and promoting wealth-building by confronting historical and ongoing harms and disparities caused by structural racism." Altogether, this framework aims to strengthen our toolkit for addressing housing injustice, a social problem that impacts all systems and that is rooted in historical and current structural racism.
National Low Income Housing Coalition;
This report highlights the mismatch between the wages people earn and the price of decent rental housing in every state, metropolitan area, and county in the U.S. The report also calculates the "Housing Wage" a full-time worker must earn to afford a rental home without spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs. This year's national Housing Wage is $25.82 per hour for a modest two-bedroom home at fair market rent and $21.25 per hour for a modest one-bedroom home.