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NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel Statement on White House’s Plan to Build Black Wealth and Take Action to End Racial Discrimination in the Housing Market

Washington, DC – The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) applauds the White House’s plans to “build Black wealth and narrow the racial gap” by investing in housing and community development through the American Jobs Plan and combating racial discrimination in the housing market, among other actions.

“On the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, it is critical that policymakers at every level of government advance anti-racist policies and redress the impacts of decades of intentionally racist housing and transportation policies, including redlining, blockbusting, restrictive covenants, restrictive zoning, and highway systems,” stated Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The housing crisis and its disproportionate harm to low-income Black families have deepened over the last several decades and, most recently, has been exacerbated due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Black individuals are far more likely than their white counterparts to have extremely low incomes, pay more than half of their income on housing, face eviction, and experience homelessness. These same Black households are also more likely to face serious health risks during the pandemic and financial harm due to the pandemic’s economic fallout. Today, Black families are disproportionately behind on their rent and are at heightened risk of losing their homes.

The actions announced by the White House will begin to redress America’s racist history against Black families and will help narrow the racial wealth and housing gap. The White House plan to rescind the Trump administration's harmful, anti-fair housing changes to Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing and Disparate Impact regulations will strengthen civil rights protections. Housing investments proposed in the American Jobs Plan, including investments in the national Housing Trust Fund, will build and preserve homes for those with the lowest incomes, predominately households of color. By creating new incentives to help end the use of exclusionary zoning, the White House can discourage communities from using zoning and land use regulations to discriminate against Black families.

The vital work to achieve racial equity cannot stop there. President Biden and Congress must work to advance additional anti-racist policies and achieve the large-scale investments and reforms necessary to ensure that the lowest-income and most marginalized renters have an affordable place to call home. More than ever, bold policies are needed, including expanding rental assistance to all eligible households, expanding and preserving the supply of rental homes affordable and accessible to people with the lowest incomes, creating a national housing stabilization fund to stabilize households during a crisis, and strengthening and enforcing renter protections to address the power imbalance between renters and landlords.

Housing justice and racial justice are inextricably linked. The plans that the White House unveiled today are an important first step to dismantle racist systems and structures and rebuild them more equitably to ensure that everyone has a safe, affordable, and accessible home.

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