An Equity Lens on Home Repair

Posted By: Emma Carrasco Advocacy Resources, News,

February is Black History Month! One of the principle goals of the Coalition for Home Repair is to proactively combat inequities that limit access to home repair. 

The Coalition recognizes that creating access to homeownership for historically marginalized populations requires a multi-faceted solution that considers and addresses issues with sustaining the home beyond the purchase of the home. Key obstacles that Black households face in their housing journey include challenges with access to credit, upfront and ongoing housing costs, inadequate affordable housing supply, financial resilience and property resilience (where home repair falls). 

Image taken from the presentation titled, The Black Housing Journey, produced by Fannie Mae, available here.

More attention is generally paid to creating equal access to homeownership opportunities. And while some argue that there has been improvement in reducing racial disparities in homeownership, there is still a long way to go. According to research from Redfin, the average Black household could afford just 7% of listings for sale in 2023 on a median income in comparison to 22% of white households. Belinda Luscombe of Time Magazine states,

“The racial gap in homeownership in the U.S. is wider now than it was back when it was legal to refuse to sell a house to a family because they were black. The difference is that in the ‘60s, it was people who were turning minority families away; now it’s systems.”

In the same article, Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) further exemplifies systems to include credit-scoring systems, risk-based pricing systems, automated underwriting systems, and more. Another example of a discriminatory practice is how a large proportion of home mortgages to Black borrowers continue to be made in census tracts that are vulnerable to the effects of climate change and where high insurance premiums exist. The same report cites data projecting that by 2050, the top 20% of majority Black census tracts will be at twice the flood risk compared to the 20% of neighborhoods with the lowest proportion of Black residents. 

We must not turn a blind eye to the historical practice of incrementally or abruptly demolishing neighborhoods where communities of color resided. We do not hear much about the current realities of entire marginalized communities that are forced to forfeit their generational assets because they are without advocates and funding options to repair their homes to combat politics and market demands. The Coalition for Home Repair understands that there are lasting impacts of systemic racism and inequitable access to resources that low-income communities of color disproportionately face. In response to that, we advocate to elevate the need for equitable home repair and modification programs so that all (not just some) homeowners can fully enjoy the advantages of homeownership. 

Opportunities to continue this conversation: 

  1. We can go further and achieve greater objectives with your support. Please consider following along and participating in our advocacy journey by signing up for updates here (free for all). Our first Advocacy Task Force meeting will be on Thursday, February 15th at 1pm eastern, you can register here.
  2. Attend a film viewing and discussion on Segregated by Design (based on the book The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How our Government Segregated America by Richard Rothstein), as part of the Coalition’s Anti-Racism in Practice Group (free for members, low cost of $10 for non-members to attend this webinar). This takes place on Wednesday, March 20, 2024 at 1pm eastern.