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Axios' Sara Kehaulani Goo, Aja Whitaker-Moore, and Russell Contreras hosted a conversation on America's housing inequities as part of our series dedicated to covering the impact of race in America. This conversation featured former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, Habitat for Humanity International CEO Jonathan Reckford, and National Fair Housing Alliance president Lisa Rice.

Jonathan Reckford unpacked how structural racism has shaped the realities of housing today and the goal of creating accessible communities.

  • On the legacy of segregated housing policies following World War II: "Black families were denied access to growing communities and then denied access to financing, which meant they largely missed out on that wealth-building boom for so many middle-class families that allowed them to create an intergenerational asset through the housing."

Julián Castro highlighted how homeownership disparity is a fundamental part of the wealth gap between white people and people of color in America.

  • Why owning a home is a racial equity issue: "Homeownership is so important because, for most Americans, that makes up the bulk of their wealth. And that's especially true for Black Americans and people of color."
  • On meeting the needs of renters as well as homeowners: "We know that we have a rental affordability crisis that also intimately impacts communities of color around this country. We need to do both of these things to ensure that there's a path to homeownership and then also address the very real challenges of skyrocketing rents."

Lisa Rice discussed the impact of the pandemic on housing equity and critical issues for the next presidential administration to address.

  • On the importance of enforcing housing laws that already exist: "We've never really had wide-scale comprehensive enforcement of our nation's fair housing laws. And unfortunately, over the past three and a half years, what we have seen from the White House and the administration is a consistent rollback and evisceration of fair housing and fair lending protections."
  • On how artificial intelligence could amplify racial discrimination in housing: "[AI] mirrors and reflects the bias that is existence already in our marketplace. And sometimes they actually amplify the bias that is replete throughout the market."

Axios' Chief People Officer Dominique Taylor hosted a View from the Top segment with Capital One Head of Community Finance Desiree Francis, unpacking how disparities made worse by COVID-19 build on past economic crises.

  • On the legacy of the 2008 economic crash: "Communities of color haven't recovered from the Great Recession. High levels of foreclosure equated to loss in housing value...These same communities are overrepresented in low-income jobs that have been greatly impacted by COVID-19."

Thank you Capital One for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper

Day One: Biden moves to combat racial inequity with executive action

A wall of Black Lives Matter art sits in front of preparations for Joe Biden's inauguration near the White House. Photo: Jeremy Hogan/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

President-elect Biden will on Wednesday launch a "whole-of-government" initiative aimed at advancing racial equity in federal policymaking and rooting out systemic racism from programs and institutions.

Why it matters: Biden’s win relied heavily on voters of color — especially Black Americans.

DOJ watchdog to probe whether officials sought to alter election results

Donald and Melania Trump exit Air Force One in West Palm Beach, Fla., on Jan. 20. Photo: Alex Edelman/AFP via Getty Images

The Justice Department's inspector general will investigate whether any current or former DOJ officials "engaged in an improper attempt to have DOJ seek to alter the outcome" of the 2020 election, the agency announced Monday.

Driving the news: The investigation comes in the wake of a New York Times report that alleged Jeffrey Clark, the head of DOJ's civil division, had plotted with President Trump to oust acting Attorney General Jeffery Rosen in a scheme to overturn the election results in Georgia.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Google's chief health officer Karen DeSalvo on vaccinating America

Google on Monday became the latest Big Tech company to get involved with COVID-19 vaccinations. Not just by doing things like incorporating vaccination sites into its maps, but by helping to turn some of its offices and parking lots into vaccination sites.

Axios Re:Cap goes deeper into what Google is doing, and why now, with Dr. Karen DeSalvo, Google's chief health officer who previously worked at HHS and as health commissioner for New Orleans.