A ROADMAP TO AN EQUITABLE, JUST AND FAIR HOUSING POLICY
Affordable and equitable housing is vital to providing opportunities for everyone in the 4th District. Racism, economic mobility, health, transportation, education, and the environment, are all intrinsically tied to our housing policy. We need to build a 21st century housing policy that is centered on equity, justice and fairness for all.
Although systemic racism began 400 years ago, the area where it has been felt the most in our society in modern times is in our housing policy. It is a long dark history of segregation, removal and exclusion. In particular in the last 80 years, the black community has been the victims of institutionalized segregation and have often been displaced through overt government action.
During the Great Depression and after World War II, the federal government took overt action to deny Black families from purchasing homes. To prevent foreclosures, President Roosevelt signed two laws that led to the Home Owners Loan Corporation creating maps to assess risk of foreclosure – this was the birth of redlining. The government drew lines around black neighborhoods and denied those living their loans with the rationale that they were financial risks. Suburban neighborhoods sprang up across the United States with white families securing housing built with federal loans that specifically prohibited Black families from purchasing the homes. The GI Bill even allowed banks loans to deny Black veterans.
These redlining policies resulted in massive immoral disparities between white and black families. White families were able to purchase middle class homes, which they then passed down through generations. Black families, however, could not purchase these same homes, and were therefore, were unable to amass wealth over generations.hite families mortgaged their homes to pay for more equity, college for their children, and new cars. The housing that white families built continued to gain value, and with our education funding deriving from local real estate taxes, their communities were able to provide more resources towards their local education, led to a further disparity in public education, with those black communities whose properties were not increasing value anywhere near the same rate. The wealth disparity between the average white and black family in America can be almost entirely explained through redlining.
The federal government has done almost nothing to address this unconstitutional injustice. As the effects of redlining are still being felt significantly by the Black community, we must double our efforts to overcome this historical injustice. We need to end the immoral segregation in this country if we are to eliminate racism. We also need to fix our housing policy to close the achievement gap and provide opportunity to low income communities. Sadly, even though it is outlawed, new redlining is still taking place today and now doesn’t just include the Black community, but also our Latino and Asian American communities as well as other communities of color. We must hold accountable those who continue to practice redlining because they are hurting families, our communities, our economy and our society.
My dad worked for the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and helped audit and oversee public housing authorities throughout the Commonwealth, and especially in places like Fall River and Taunton. Similar to the redlining that took place, our public housing was also intentionally segregated, further causing the disparities and inequalities we see today in our education, health, transportation, housing, and criminal justice systems and in our environment. As a child, I used to join my dad on occasion during his site visits Fall River and Taunton. I saw first hand the effects of our segregated housing policy. It is time we stop turning a blind eye to these inequitable, unfair and unjust policies.
To efficiently and effectively correct our housing policies, we must tie it to our transportation policy and to our environmental policies, and establish more mixed-income transit oriented housing. We need to also create more affordable housing for not just our low-income families, but also our middle-income families, who are being priced out of many of our cities and towns in the 4th District. In addition, we need to create more housing opportunities for our seniors and disabled, prohibit housing discrimination against our LGBTQ+ community, end exclusionary zoning practices, and revise our zoning laws to increase the supply of affordable housing and make our communities more financially accessible to more families. Creating more affordable housing is the key to climbing the economic mobility and opportunity ladder and if done right, it also allows us to tackle the climate crisis at the same time. A better, more fair and just housing policy will make a substantial payoff for so many people and is a way for us to tackle the many significant interconnected and interrelated challenges we have in our country.
As your next Member of Congress, I will:
- Create more Mixed Income Housing Communities – In order to tackle the underlying causes of racism, we need to end segregation and build communities focused on improving the lives of EVERYone, especially the most vulnerable. I will champion a federal grant or pilot program to incentive local developers to build more mixed-income units.
- Fight for More Affordable Housing – We must create more affordable housing opportunities for not just our low-income families, but also our middle-income families who are being priced out of many of the neighborhoods in the 4th District. We need to incentivize developers and cities and towns to create a mixture of affordable low-income, middle-income, subsidized, and market rate housing, through, among other things, increasing low-income housing credits, historical tax credits, housing choice vouchers and the National Housing Trust Fund. We need to both expand our tax credits and vouchers, while also increasing the supply of affordable homes. In addition to building more new affordable, environmentally friendly and energy efficient housing, we must also build, rehabilitate, preserve, and operate rental housing for our low-income families as well. We must also create middle-income housing credits and workforce housing credits, while safeguarding low-income affordable housing.
- Increase Affordable Housing Opportunities for Seniors and Disabled – Our seniors and those with disabilities are being priced out and left behind in many of our communities. We must create more opportunities to build and repurpose housing for our disabled and seniors, including investing in more housing choice vouchers (Section 8 housing) and ensuring that our mixed housing communities and our cities and towns in general contain enough affordable housing for these communities.
- Reinvest in our Federal Housing Stock – I support the Green New Housing Deal, to upgrade, modernize and renovate our existing housing stock and make them safer and more environmentally friendly. I would also invest in geographic diversity in our housing stock. For too long, we have crammed our public housing into very specific segregated communities resulting in poorer education for those children who live there.
- Invest in More Transit Oriented Housing – Transit oriented housing is one step in providing more economic mobility and tackling the climate crisis. By partnering new clean development with investment in green forms of transportation, including high-speed rail, buses, trains, bike and walking pathways that provide equitable access to opportunities, we can tackle both issues at once.
- National Foreclosure and Eviction Moratorium – COVID-19 has devastated communities, families and our country, we cannot compound the problem by allowing foreclosures and evictions during this time, as it puts all of us in danger and can cripple family income for years. We need a national moratorium on foreclosures and evictions until the crisis has passed. We must stop all non-essential evictions for residential and small-businesses, halt any notices of eviction or foreclosure to residential tenants and small business, limit courts from taking action on non-essential evictions for residential tenants and small businesses, prohibit landlords from imposing a late fee for non-payment of rent on a residential or a small business tenant, stop all residential forbearance notices, stop termination of any utility service, and require landlords to grant a forbearance for up to 180 days upon a request expressing a financial impact from COVID-19.
- Repeal the Faircloth Amendment – The Faircloth Amendment has blocked construction on new public housing for over 20 years. Especially now, we need to be expanding our federal public housing stock to help families.
- Eliminate Housing Discrimination and Redlining – As outlined above, racism and redlining have had a tragic effect on our black and brown communities. While these policies are outlawed, the outcomes are still felt today and the practice is still occuring. According to a study by the Brookings Institute, at our current rate of integration, it will take another 100 years for 268 of our metro areas to be fully integrated. We need to ban all exclusionary zoning practices and incentive black and brown home ownership. We must also hold accountable those who continue to practice redlining, whether intentional or not.
- Revise our Zoning Laws – In addition to eliminating all exclusionary zoning practices, we must also incentivize cities and towns to revise their zoning laws and regulatory barriers that limit the ability to build lower-cost homes, especially on expensive land. We must look in particular at local zoning regulations that prohibit building anything other than single-family detached houses or zoning rules like building height caps and minimum lot sizes that may limit the financial feasibility of developing new affordable housing. Zoning reforms that open up communities to non single-family detached homes like townhomes, duplexes, and small apartment buildings would substantially increase the supply of affordable housing and make those same communities financially accessible to more families, helping end segregation and creating more diverse and robust communities.
- Protect LGBTQ+ Communities – The LGBTQ+ community is still discriminated against in regards to housing despite the progress we have made. We need to ensure that no one is denied housing because of gender identity and sexual orientation.