President Biden’s acknowledgement of the federal government’s central role in “creating and perpetuating today’s patterns of racial segregation, neighborhood disinvestment, housing insecurity, and racial wealth gaps” takes an important step toward advancing racial equality in housing. Biden’s recent actions recognize that “facing the facts about our history is a necessary step toward long-overdue healing and provides the foundation for urgently needed policy changes,” write Margery Austin Turner, Solomon Greene, and Martha M. Galvez, for the Urban Institute.
The authors list six Institute recommendations for the federal government that could help achieve the goals set out by the new President. The recommendations cover a range of federal programs that, if strengthened, would advance Biden’s stated goals, including:
- “vigorously enforce” mandates to restore resources and opportunities in historically disinvested areas
- expand neighborhood choice by enhancing the housing voucher program and eliminating voucher discrimination
- reduce barriers to housing production such as exclusionary zoning policies
- collect and share disaggregated data
- “reaffirm and enforce the disparate impact standard,” which acknowledges unintentional discrimination in systemic policies
- close the racial wealth gap through homeownership and home equity initiatives for people of color.
If the administration can follow through with effective initiatives, recognizing the legacy of inequality in federal housing policy and a commitment to change will be “welcome first steps” in redressing past injustices.