The disproportionate impact of the current credit crisis on people of color is the result of structural inequities “deeply embedded into the rules, the histories, and the cultural currents of this country.” That is the overarching theme of a new report on the labor market and housing from the Applied Research Center, which takes a fairly wide-ranging look at the indicators of racial inequality.
Based on the center’s own analysis, secondary sources, and the testimonials of people of color affected by crisis, the primary contribution of this report is to organize and interpret the various indicators of this economic crisis, which are widely available and regularly cited, through the lens of structural racism, and to match these statistics with specific stories that illustrate the human experience and toll of the crisis.
The housing section of the report begins by looking at discriminatory practices in lending and the impact of foreclosures on homeowners, tying the current crisis back to the historical and structural racism that exists in U.S. housing markets.
The report also looks at the impact of the crisis on renters. One of the personal stories in the report is of Sabrina Otis, who lost custody of her children to the foster care system due to a lack of stable housing. She regained custody when she found an affordable home to rent with the help of a Section 8 voucher. But when the owner began to default on the property she had to move, only to have a similar experience at the next home. While she has been able to keep her family together thus far, she describes her situation as “a drive-by shooting” in which she is a casualty of a situation she had no part in causing.
In the area of employment, the report finds that Black America has been in a permanent recession. A review of data from the past 37 years shows the nonwhite unemployment rate rarely fell below even the highest recession-level rate for whites. The paper concludes with policy recommendations, including passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, Community Reinvestment Act modernization, and universal healthcare. In the area of housing, the focus is on a foreclosure moratorium and the enforcement of fair housing laws.
The report, Race and Recession: How Inequity Rigged the Economy and How to Change the Rules, can by found at http://www.arc.org/content/view/726/136/.