Happy Pride Month! Happy Juneteenth! We’ve seen celebrations of these events with vigils, parades, cookouts, and street parties. These days of recognition help us to commemorate the end of slavery and increased protections for our LGBTQ+ neighbors. They also challenge us to face the ongoing struggles of people who are historically oppressed and inspire us to strive to be better as neighbors, as a community, as a nation.
As housing advocates, we understand the importance of accessible, equitable, and affordable housing for all. Now more than ever, it is crucial to challenge our community and policy makers to make housing justice a reality. We believe that everyone deserves a safe and stable place to call home, regardless of their income or background. This means addressing the systemic barriers that prevent so many from accessing quality housing, and working towards solutions that prioritize the needs of our most vulnerable communities. Housing that promotes health, well-being, and economic stability is fundamental to the lives of every single individual and family and, by extension, the entire community.
Historical and ongoing discriminatory and racist practices mean that there are people and communities who experience high rates of housing insecurity. Racial inequality in housing has a long history embedded in federal housing policies such as redlining, withholding credit from homebuyers in predominantly Black neighborhoods, limiting mortgages for Black homebuyers, appropriation of Native lands, and displacement of non-white families through eminent domain. Adding fuel to the fire are the predatory lending practices during the 2008 housing crisis that put borrowers at risk by trapping homeowners, usually people of color, in unaffordable debt that often cost homeowners their homes and life savings.
The LGBTQ+ community faces higher rates of poverty, unemployment, and homelessness than their cisgender counterparts and have difficulty securing safe and affordable housing. The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing and housing-related discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status, and disability. However, the Urban Institute reports that gay men and transgender people experience discrimination in rental housing searches, even in areas with antidiscrimination protections. These difficulties are exacerbated if members are black or brown. Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) LGBTQ+ renter households have even higher rates of poverty and experience higher housing insecurity than non-LGBTQ+ BIPOC renters.
As we strive to build a better Albuquerque, we need to ask ourselves if our city, state, and federal policies not only make amends for and protect those who have been disenfranchised, but if they lift people up by creating opportunities for health, wealth, safety, and a sense of place. There are many ways to make housing more accessible and equitable, such as investing in affordable rental housing, implementing HUD’s LGBTQIA+ Fair Housing Toolkit, and eliminating exclusionary zoning laws.
We believe that everyone deserves a safe and comfortable place to call home, and it's time to make that a reality. Together, we can create a better future for ourselves and our communities. By joining the movement for housing justice, we can create a future where everyone has a place to live with dignity and respect. Let's work together to make this vision a reality.
Check your state’s Equality Index: https://www.hrc.org/resources/state-equality-index
View a map of states with non-discrimination laws: https://www.mapresearch.org/democracy-maps/ratings_by_state