MReport January 2021

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42 | M R EP O RT SERVICING THE LATEST O R I G I NAT I O N S E R V I C I N G DATA G O V E R N M E N T S E C O N DA R Y M A R K E T Housing's Most Vulnerable Crisis-motivated policy changes could affect housing inequality. W hile COVID-19's hardly at the root of housing challenges, the pandemic compounded them—a signal that another housing crisis can be expected for homeowners, renters, and rental property own- ers, according to a report from the Urban Institute. In the eye of economic down- turns, people of color are most vulnerable to housing instabil- ity, recent data and prior crises show. Black and Latino adults are particularly at risk of housing instability, including falling behind on rent and mortgage payments at more than twice the rate of white homeowners. Meantime, also especially vul- nerable are owners of rental units in small buildings—a large source of affordable housing without sub- sidies. Almost one of every three feels the heat, believing its incum- bent upon them—fueled by a lag in rental income—to place their properties on the market. On top of that, it's likely for Black and Latino owners to especially feel the brunt. More broadly, a loss of these units would shore the stock of affordable rental housing. The upshot? It would tamp down housing options further among struggling renters. When it came to previous crises—Hurricane Katrina and the Great Recession, for example— housing policy responses haven't met the challenge of advancing ra- cial equity and economic mobility. Notably, a spate of current housing outcomes reflects histori- cally racist intentions and prac- tices, reported the Institute. While such practices have evolved or now are against the law, the racist roots of these policies continue to inform who owns homes, their location, and the county's wealthy. The growing racial homeown- ership gap and related dearth of intergenerational wealth-building opportunities for Black Americans is vivid proof of these trends. The Black homeownership rate is more than 30% lower than their white counterparts. That's a more pronounced gulf than when racial discrimination against homebuy- ers was legal. So, the question is how to reverse these legacies and uproot racism. Thing is, merely tracking those who participate in crisis response programs—as has been done during past crisis response programs—won't cut it. What really needs to happen is racial equity must be an explicit start- ing goal of crisis housing policy responses. Furthermore, among other things, it's incumbent that on-the-ground program imple- mentation be guided by the voices of people of color—those most affected by this and past crises. According to an analysis from, President-elect Joe Biden would be entering the presidency during a unique time in the housing market, as the in- dustry is experiencing a shortage of home inventory, record-low in- terest rates, and high home prices. There's no doubt that this housing market environment has made it challenging for middle- and low- income Americans to purchase a home, and entry-level housing has become extremely competitive. "Biden has a really ambitious agenda that will try to create opportunities for more low- and middle-income Americans to be- come homeowners or afford rental housing," said Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at During his run for the presi- dency, Biden's campaign released a $640 billion housing plan. It includes assisting first-time home- buyers by providing them with "a down payment tax credit of up to $15,000," which they could apply at the time of purchasing a home. "Biden recognizes how chal- lenging it can be for some people to become homeowners," Hale said. She predicts that a Biden administration would focus housing initiatives on policies that would help those who have struggled to attain homeowner- ship in the past.

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