Updated Aug 4, 2022 - Axios Events

Watch: A conversation addressing affordable and fair housing

On Thursday, August 4th, Axios business reporter Erica Pandey, managing editor for business and markets Javier E. David and URL Media CEO and co-founder S. Mitra Kalita led conversations examining the challenges of affordable and fair housing and solutions to bridge the racial homeownership gap. Guests included Department of Housing & Urban Development Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell and National Fair Housing Alliance president and CEO Lisa Rice.

Secretary Marcia L. Fudge highlighted the challenges of affordable housing in today’s market and explained new HUD plans to improve opportunities for homeownership and bridge equity gaps.

  • On new HUD investments aimed at improving homeownership and wealth building: “Today, what we are talking about from a HUD perspective is announcing an opportunity for us to help low-income people and residents who are rarely ever really the focus of wealth building. And that’s one of the ways that we can make sure that they get a fair chance, by creating an environment in which we can help them build their credit, save resources to maybe do homeownership, but for whatever they choose, get the financial kind of counseling that they need, and to help them to really start to build a platform by which they can build wealth. And we’re doing it and coupling it with about $113 million in resources that can be applied for by not just public entities, but for the first time privately owned multifamily housing landlords.”
  • On racial bias in home appraisal and valuation processes: “We know because of racism and bias, people like me who own their own home and happen to live in a Black or brown community, and I happen to live in an all Black community, find our housing undervalued on the market. And so we lose wealth annually because in a Black neighborhood, our homes are generally undervalued by almost half, if you live in an all Black or an all brown neighborhood. So we’re looking at current housing and how we can keep people in a position to build wealth and pass something on to the next generation.”

Mayor LaToya Cantrell described how her administration is working to make housing more inclusive in New Orleans.

  • On creating affordable housing in the face of climate change: “My administration has allocated over about $54 million for affordable housing developments throughout the city since 2018. But being very strategic, we’re partnering with the developer community and providing these resources that you have to provide in order to create permanent, affordable housing in areas again throughout the city with the highest housing costs. So we have been able to create win-wins, with one, creating housing in these areas that are high, dry areas because you know, we’re on the front lines of climate change as well. So when we think about affordable housing, we want to make sure that we’re putting people in places that are safe as well in terms of flood mitigation practices and just being on that front line.”
  • On being intentional when allocating funding to developers: “Then we were able to in that process, build up our small developer community by giving some of them a real shake and an opportunity to do and advance affordable housing in this city. And that took us away from only looking at large scale developers that could do the work. So this has resulted in building up not only our pipeline, but giving our small developers an opportunity to not only develop housing, but to make their mark in the city that they live in and of course, making sure that minorities and Black and brown folks get a fair shot at participating in these development opportunities.”

Lisa Rice discussed the importance of homeownership in building wealth, how pandemic pressures worsened housing affordability and availability and solutions to address bias in the appraisal system.

  • On post-pandemic challenges to affordable housing: “So post-pandemic, what we are seeing is that we haven’t done enough to shore up the ability of everyday Americans, hardworking families, to be able to purchase and secure affordable housing units. We need about 4 million affordable units. We have been under-producing affordable housing units since the Great Recession, and we used to really think of this as a coastal problem. But we’re now seeing a shortage of housing in places like Wisconsin and Minnesota and Wyoming and Ohio, because quite frankly, during the pandemic, people found out that they could live anywhere.”
  • On addressing systemic appraisal bias: “There are a number of solutions that need to be put in place, including increasing diversity in the appraisal industry, developing better training for appraisers so that they understand how to comply with the law, and then bringing on board more technologies that can increase accuracy and consistency in appraisals.”
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