Biden's Housing Policies to Address Inequality and Racial Justice

President Biden promised to take steps in order to bring the United States toward the never-realized but frequently promised idea of racial justice. On January 26, he signed four executive orders around racial justice. One of those orders was related to housing. The Department of Housing and Urban Development was ordered to address racially discriminatory rules and policies that have contributed to many generations of wealth inequality. Here's what the executive orders can and cannot do and what racial justice advocates and housing experts think will happen.

New Policies on Racial Justice

At the same time as President Biden signed the executive order for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to act, he signed another one for the Department of Justice to end the use of private prisons for incarceration of nonviolent offenders. Those low-security prisons are known for treating people poorly and unfairly on the basis of race. Tribal sovereignty and tribal relations were also included in the executive orders. President Biden is committed to ending all types of federally-sponsored racism and actual or perceived xenophobia.

What President Biden Said About His Actions

President Biden said that the United States has yet to live up to the nation's founding principles. Those are that all people are created equal and have a right to equal treatment throughout their lives. He said that now is the right time to act, and if we do, everyone will benefit from it. He added that criminal justice reform is needed, but it is not enough. The promise of America has to be available to all. Racial equity is something the whole government has to do.

Who Bears Responsibility for the Implementation of Fair Housing Policies

The White House's Domestic Policy Council, which is led by Susan Rice, will hold responsibility for the oversight and implementation of racial equality and justice. Under former President Obama, Rice was the National Security Advisor and the United States' representative to the United Nations.

Why Racial Justice Is Needed in Housing

Millions of people living on the margins of American life face financial disaster in the next 30 days if they miss just one paycheck. A majority of those marginalized people are African American or Latino. They have imminent risks of food insecurity, loss of utilities and homelessness. Many of these people used to be employed before the COVID-19 pandemic hit hard in the United States. When their jobs disappeared, so did their ability to pay their bills. They also lost their employer-based health insurance. No matter how much or little money someone has, they need a safe home that provides adequate shelter. People have a right to housing.

Nonprofits Step in to Help

Many nonprofits have stepped up to the plate since the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the precarious financial situations of low-income Americans, especially people of color. The Ford Foundation, Community Change and Feeding America are just a few. They released a report with recommendations specific to housing. They called it "A New Deal for Housing Justice." The report explains how housing justice can be achieved and what federal actions need to be taken and when.

What the Housing Road Map Includes

Julian Castro, who is the former mayor of San Antonio, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and current Community Change co-chairperson, said that the United States faces a homelessness crisis, evictions crisis and housing affordability crisis at the same time it is dealing with a public health crisis. Housing is a basic need, not a commodity, argues Castro. The other co-founder, Dorian Warren, said that regardless of how a person identifies or what they do for work, they deserve a roof over their head. The recommendations include federal relief for renters at imminent risk of eviction and homeowners facing foreclosure. It would also create a renter's tax credit. Low-income families would receive housing vouchers.

Who Needs the Most Help

Concentrated poverty in Latino and African American communities has led to poverty rates in excess of 20%. That's on par with many developing countries. Low-income people also have a higher housing cost or burden as a proportion of their income. People of color are also more likely to be homeless than white people. Prioritizing racial equality will also have to include actually implementing the Fair Housing Act of 1968. That act gives families the right to live free of discrimination.

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