‘The housing emergency most harms people of color:’ Black Americans face an


A recent report from the Urban Institute, which analyzed U.S. Census Bureau survey data, found that nearly one in four black and Latino renters didn’t pay or deferred their rent in May, compared with just 14% of white renters. And the problem may soon get worse: Nearly half of black and Latino rents expressed concern about being able to pay their rent in June.

People of color, compared with white Americans, are disproportionately more likely to hold a low-wage job or a job that cannot be performed remotely.

“Black and Latino people have been hardest hit by stay-at-home orders and other public-health measures put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19 because of a legacy of occupational segregation,” Urban Institute vice president of housing finance policy Alanna McCargo and senior fellow Solomon Greene, wrote in the recent report.


African-Americans are more likely to live in densely populated housing, such as an apartment building, with communal spaces that put residents at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

“Layoffs related to COVID-19 for black and Latino workers are also more likely to lead to housing instability, as they already reported higher rates of financial insecurity and lower savings to draw from to weather economic shocks before the crisis began,” the researchers added.

The housing conditions for black Americans also leave them more exposed to contracting coronavirus that causes COVID-19. Only 54.5% of African-American households live in single-family homes, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute, compared with 74.5% of white households.

African-Americans are more likely to live in densely populated housing, such as an apartment building. Those buildings likely have communal spaces that see a high degree of foot traffic, putting residents at a higher risk of contracting the virus.

Matters were also worse for black homeowners than their white neighbors. Twenty-eight percent of black homeowners did not pay or deferred their mortgage payment in May, compared with just 9% of white homeowners, the Urban Institute reported.

“The housing emergency most harms people of color,” Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, a national non-profit organization committed to expanding affordable housing for low-income Americans, wrote in memo.

“Without focused action, the pending tsunami of evictions and homelessness will disproportionately affect black and brown people,” Yentel wrote.



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