Our staff here at Lexington Fair Housing Council regularly speaks to prospective first-time home-buyers who may be vulnerable to discriminatory lending practices. Those forms of discrimination can manifest as, to just name a couple of examples, imposing different terms or conditions because of your race or by inquiring about any plans of yours to have or not have children. However, this week’s Fair Housing 5 includes a report that suggests that the approval of loans to Black home-buyers is greatly affected by whether or not they live in a predominantly White neighborhood. Also included in this week’s post are housing justice issues around gentrification, the link between homelessness and the criminal justice system, and one organization’s creative approach to building housing stability for families. As always, thanks for reading!

  • A new report from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition highlights a racial disparity among approved home loans in Baltimore. The likelihood of being approved for a home loan isn’t just following pre-existing wealth disparities between white and Black residents, writes Gillian B. White at The Atlantic, but rather “the best predictor of mortgage approval was how many white residents lived in a particular neighborhood.” [National Community Reinvestment Coalition, The Atlantic]
  • While most studies of gentrification primarily look at the increasing price of homes in an area, a new essay from The Shelterforce Blog examines how other factors, such as increases in rental home prices and how swiftly neighborhood demographics are changing, are influencing this generation’s wave of gentrification. For instance, the essay explains, “rental housing construction, while strong, is not keeping up with demand, and new units are primarily being constructed for the high end of the market.” If that’s the case, gentrification may be happening with a greater intensity than we previously imagined.
    [Shelterforce]
  • The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness published a report this week detailing their plan to help break the cycle of homelessness and incarceration that many people get trapped in. Currently, no federal law prohibits housing providers from denying housing services to people with a criminal charge or conviction, leaving these residents – who, according to our legal courts, have presumably already paid their debt to society if they’re free to seek housing on their own – vulnerable to homelessness, which in turn increases their chances of some encounter with the criminal justice system. Earlier this month, the Department of Housing and Urban Development issued a guidance to public housing agencies that advises them to not deny housing services to people simply because they have been arrested (as opposed to charged or convicted of a crime). [USICH]
  • Next City has a great report on the work being done in Detroit by the Family Independent Initiative to create housing stability and opportunity for families. The foundation of the project is simple enough: provide families with a laptop and monthly stipend, who then make available data about their income and money-saving priorities. As a result of participating in the program, families have seen increases in income and education opportunities. In addition to Detroit, the FII has started programs in several other cities in the U.S., and plans to continue expanding in 2016. [Next City]
  • Finally, exactly 53 years ago today, President John Kennedy issued Executive Order 11063, which called for an end to housing discrimination in federally funded housing. Unfortunately, the mandate was never really enforced, and so housing discrimination would continue for several years. It wasn’t until 1968, following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., that the federal government finally got on board with fair housing and passed the Fair Housing Act. [History.com]
  • (Photo: “My Neighborhood,” by Loren Kerns. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Creative Commons.)