Housing is one of the fundamental human needs because, in addition to providing shelter and the foundation of families, it also supports financial stability and wealth creation. Proper housing ensures quality living, a form of investment, and access to services like transport, education, health, security, financial, and employment (Thomas et al., 2018). Therefore, it is the center of economic stability. Unfortunately, there is a wide disparity in access to housing, where the whites have access to desired homes, while blacks are segregated to poorly developed settlements. The situation correlates with poverty and social inequality (Solomon et al., 2019). Therefore, it is critical to explore the systems of racism in housing to determine the factors driving it and propose the appropriate solutions.
Despite the extensive push for equality that covered most of the 20th century and enacting laws such as the Fair Housing Act of 1968, there is still vast inequality in America, which continues to disadvantage people of color. The disparity is propagated by extensive systems that seek to suppress minority populations by denying them access to resources and opportunities (Seib, 2020). Therefore, it takes many forms.
The most direct form of housing racism is the denial of occupancy based on race and skin color, even when they can afford and qualify for residency. The strategy is less common today than in the early 20th century, where policies prohibited people of color from specific neighborhoods (Mehdipanah et al., 2020). Nevertheless, it still occurs.
Another most common strategy used to discriminate against blacks is intimidation, harassment, and violence. The strategy targets people that occupy homes in neighborhoods where they are the minority. The majority group intimidates, threaten and protest against the new occupations, to push them away. Some even coerce and seek to influence the occupants by offering money and other options to move from the area. In extreme cases, there have been reported violence targeted at unwanted occupants based on their race to make their occupancy impossible and push them away (Mehdipanah et al., 2020). The negative connotation attributed to minorities also affects home values. Whenever they move to, the value declines due to undesirability by the wealthy whites, who may choose to move out from such neighborhoods. As a result, black homeowners buy houses at a high price and under back-breaking mortgages and loans, but soon suffer the devaluation of the same homes so that even if they decide to sell, they suffer huge losses (Thomas et al., 2018). Therefore, they directly lose money, and the cycle starts all over again.
Far more damaging is the extensive policies and programs that aimed to benefit some groups over others. While most of them have stopped, they served to socio-economically promote the white population at enormous levels that any collective efforts have not achieved. The most evident of such programs is the government's extensive housing initiatives post-WWII, but going as far as FDR's New Deal (Seib, 2020). The government provided millions of dollars to undertake housing projects, which it then mortgaged to the white population at a very affordable price. The government also offered low-interest loans to private and corporate developers that constructed houses for the whites. Such projects were not extended to the minority population. With housing being one of the major expenditure items, giving cheap homes to the whites relieved them of the considerable accommodation budget, enabling them to invest in wealth-creating projects. Even when the programs were discontinued, the white population was already set for proliferation. Therefore, most own multiple homes or can afford to buy or rent any house of their choice in ideal communities with adequate facilities like schools, hospitals, service institutions, and infrastructure. On the other hand, the minorities, who are over-represented in the lower social class, cannot afford decent housing or are overburdened by mortgages and rent (Seib, 2020). At the end of the month, they barely have anything to save or invest. Therefore, minority populations still suffer the consequences of past discrimination, which then hampers their access to proper housing.
The racism in housing is also indirectly contributed by inequality in many other sectors of society. The minorities are disadvantaged in access to education, employment, income, healthcare, occupational attainment, government services, and many other sectors. If individuals cannot access good schools, they will not graduate with high-demand degrees that allow them to access well-paying jobs. As a result, they are relegated to low-ranking employment, including menial jobs that can barely sustain them. As a result, they have lower access to resources and opportunities, which then pushes them to poverty. The default in loans or have no assets, and therefore, they cannot access credit, and if they do, it is given at a higher interest rate and with more strict terms (Thomas et al., 2018). The factors combine to hamper access to proper housing and push the individual further down the social order.
Housing racism is a deep-lying problem that results from broader inequality in society tracing back to America's founding. Since the slavery years, the US has enabled the whites to generate wealth while excluding the minorities. As a result, whites are generally in better economic conditions than minority groups, which allows them access to proper housing (Mehdipanah et al., 2020). As a result, the solution to housing disparity is equally comprehensive.
There is the need to address the racial disparity in society to ensure that all groups compete on an equal platform. The solution is complex and multi-sectoral. The government can achieve balance by providing essential services to minorities. It can build and equip schools, hospitals, and other utilities in the minority communities to help them maintain good health and well-being to pursue opportunities. It also ensures that their children can achieve higher education levels so that they can compete for top jobs in the future (Greene & Ellen, 2020). The aim is to facilitate the minorities to create wealth.
The government should also embark on proper affirmative action aimed to undo the harm done by the past's discriminatory programs. Among the interventions should be high-quality housing projects targeted at minority homeowners. The projects in prospective areas will help them found their prosperity by breaking the cycle of homelessness (Solomon et al., 2019). The government should also offer low-interest loans and grants to individuals and communities to help them establish their lives and generate value to break the cycle of poverty (Greene & Ellen, 2020). The direct measures will stimulate minority economies.
The measures should be supported by laws and policies that will aim to correct racial injustices. Congress should enact laws that will be the foundation of the proposals above. Moreover, it should also prohibit ongoing actions like zoning and curbing of housing development, contributing to housing shortages that significantly affect the lower social class groups (Greene & Ellen, 2020). The federal and state governments should also commit to ending housing discrimination by implementing current and future laws, policies, and programs.
There is extensive housing disparity by race due to far-reaching factors. Among them, blacks are denied access to particular housing in specific communities that are reserved for whites. They are also subjected to harassment in such neighborhoods to push them away. However, the lack of access to housing by the minorities traces to broader inequality and racism in access to essential resources like schools, healthcare, employment, financial services, and government support, which has driven and kept the minorities at the bottom of the social status. Therefore, corrective measures should aim to correct the inequality in society by enacting programs, policies, and policies that significantly empower minority grows to elevate their social status. Such transformation requires commitment from all stakeholders to implement current and future laws.
Ready to get an essay instead of browsing samples? – Do it now! Order personalized write my essay service and get WOWed!
Greene, S., & Ellen, I. G. (2020). Breaking Barriers, Boosting Supply: How the Federal Government Can Help Eliminate Exclusionary Zoning. Washington, DC: Urban Institute.
Mehdipanah, R., Ramirez, J., Abedin, S., & F Brown, S. (2018). Housing discrimination and health: Understanding potential linking pathways using a mixed-methods approach. Social Sciences, 7(10), 194.
Seib, G. (2020). The debate over systemic racism: Why it divides and why it provides hope. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-debate-over-systemic-racism-why-it-divides-and-why-it-provides-hope-11595852987
Solomon, D., Maxwell, C., & Castro, A. (2019). Systematic Inequality: Displacement, Exclusion, and Segregation: How America’s Housing System Undermines Wealth Building in Communities of Color. Center for America Progress, den, 7.
Thomas, M. E., Moye, R., Henderson, L., & Horton, H. D. (2018). Separate and unequal: The impact of socioeconomic status, segregation, and the Great Recession on racial disparities in housing values. Sociology of Race and Ethnicity, 4(2), 229-244.