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Axios' Russell Contreras (L) and National Fair Housing Alliance CEO Lisa Rice (R). Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Racial biases in technology and artificial intelligence can amplify discrimination in the housing market for people of color, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance Lisa Rice said at an Axios Event aired Tuesday.

Why it matters: AI is playing a larger role in housing decisions like tenant selections and loan approvals. The tech holds the potential to aid people of color and others who have historically faced discrimination on this front — but only with proper care for both algorithms and training data, Axios' chief technology correspondent Ina Fried wrote earlier this year.

What they're saying: "People have this erroneous belief that computers or technological systems cannot see race. Nothing is further from the truth. In fact, computers and technologically based systems, A.I., artificially intelligent systems can see race. Those systems can see national origin, and they don't dissipate the bias that is already existent in the marketplace," Rice said.

  • "They mirror and reflect the bias that is existence already in our marketplace. And sometimes they actually amplify the bias that is replete throughout the market."

Go deeper: Race and housing in America

Watch the full event here.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 22, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: America's housing inequities

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.

Former HUD secretary Julián Castro says homeownership can help close wealth gaps in America

Axios' Aja Whitaker-Moore (L) and former Sec. Julián Castro (R). Photo courtesy of Axios Events

Homeownership disparity is one of the root causes of wealth gaps between white people and people of color in America, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro said at an Axios Event aired Tuesday.

Why it matters: The homeownership gap between Black and white Americans is worse today than when race-based housing laws and policies were in effect decades ago. The Census Bureau reports that 42% of Black Americans and 61% of Hispanic Americans own a home — but for whites, it's 72%.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Politics: Biden unveils "wartime" COVID strategyBiden's COVID-19 bubble.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong to put tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

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