Everyone should have the right to live in a thriving community they choose to call home. Research has demonstrated when a neighborhood includes affordable housing, home values do not decrease. In light of the Administration's recent repeal of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, we all must amplify this message to counter claims to the contrary.
A cornerstone of racist housing policies was the pernicious and enduring myth that diverse communities devalue real estate. To address these housing policies, the AFFH required nothing more of communities than to identify patterns of housing discrimination, implement corrective actions, and report results; in short, it enforced the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the case law on the disparate impact that followed.
By no longer enforcing AFFH, families and individuals living on the margins are shut out of opportunities to thrive themselves.
What the Research Shows
Research on the impact of supportive housing for low income and formerly homeless people in New York City found that over time home values were not adversely affected by proximity. The effects did not vary based on the size, characteristics, or density of the development.
Trulia looked at the impact of affordable housing in 20 high-cost cities and suburbs across the country. What they learned was simple: "low-income housing has no impact on nearby home values."
The groundbreaking research of Raj Chetty and Nathaniel Hendren on economic opportunity found that neighborhoods have a powerful effect on life-long success: “every extra year a child spends growing up in an area where permanent residents’ incomes are higher increases his or her income.” The disparities between higher-income/higher cost and lower-income/lower-cost neighborhoods are the result of segregating communities by race and class via the history of racist housing policies.
The Need for Fair Housing Now More than Ever
The elimination of AFFH comes at a time when it has never been more urgent to expand affordable housing opportunities. The National Low-Income Housing Coalition's 2020 Out of Reach report found that the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment was out of reach for 11 million, or one in four, renter households.
Rising housing costs have had a disproportionate impact on Black, Indigenous, and other people of color. 54.7% of Black renter households are cost-burdened (i.e., pay more than 30% of gross income toward housing costs) versus 42.7% of white households.
The elimination of AFFH also comes on the heels of the 30th anniversary of the ADA, which promises “equality of opportunity, full participation, independent living, and economic self-sufficiency.” Yet people with disabilities are 2.25 times more likely to live in poverty, and 3 times more likely to be out of the labor force.
Repealing laws designed to ensure fair access to housing for everyone sets us back decades as record numbers of people are experiencing homelessness, face housing insecurity, and live in inadequate institutional settings. Now is the time to expand housing opportunities so that everyone has the right to live in a community they choose to call home.