Rent Is Racist

Tuesday, August 1, 2017
In This Issue: Is This Virtual Redlining? ● The 30 Percent Rent-to-Income Ratio Doesn’t Add Up ● Administration’s Assault on Workers Continues ● Rent Is Racist ● Also: Industry News ● You Said It! ● In Case You Missed It ● Jobs ● More
DiDi Delgado, writer, organizer, and poet
The gatekeepers of housing have continuously found devious ways to isolate and exploit people of color simply looking to house their families. And these families are forced to “play the game” or risk being evicted and subjected to further systemic abuse.

Speaking of eviction, it’s time to remove that word from our vocabulary. In the same way hospitals are, at least in theory, required to provide emergency treatment to anyone regardless of insurance status, housing providers should never deny housing based solely on an inability to pay rent. The threat of homelessness is not a good means of ensuring timely payment, and cash-poor individuals don’t often receive income in consistent monthly cycles. I once had a landlord who . . .
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“He’s great. She’s not so great.” So says a commercial that aired during the 2017 Superbowl from the online lender, Social Finance Inc. The commercial’s premise is odd in the arbitrary manner in which it considers some young urban professional is “great” and others are “not so great.”

Why would a lender admit that it would capriciously evaluate people? How is this smart marketing, and how does it attract potential applicants?
Richard Heitler, Urban Homesteading Assistance Board in New York
Among housing professionals, there is widespread agreement that if a household spends more than 30 percent of its income on housing, that household can (in most cases) be considered “housing cost burdened.” But is the opposite true? If households spend less than 30 percent of their income in rent, does that make their housing “affordable”?

It’s clear that a household with a very high income—say, one headed by a stockbroker making $500,000 a year—can easily spend $150,000 a year on luxury housing and still have enough left for other things. We can safely assume they will be OK, even if they spent even more on housing.

It is equally obvious that some households have such low incomes that basic survival consumes all of their available cash so they cannot afford to spend anything on rent.

But what about the households that lie between those two extremes? 
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Laura Barrett, Interfaith Worker Justice
Worker justice advocates have been waiting for the other shoe to drop since U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta was confirmed, and last month they got the news they were dreading: during testimony to a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee, Acosta floated a tacit defense of the gutting of the Susan Harwood Training Grant Program, which provides training and education for workers and employers on safety and health hazards in their workplaces, and informs workers of their rights and employers of their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Target audiences include underserved, low-literacy, and workers in high-hazard industries.

And just this week . . .
Industry News
Eric Chatman joins Housing Partnership Network as chief financial officer. Previously, Chatman founded the Chatman Group LLC and served with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority, the Iowa Finance Authority, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, and CIGNA (now Prudential) Retirement. Chatman also spent several years working in West Africa in the treasury department at African Development Bank and served in corporate finance at Databank Financial Services in Ghana.

Joan Straussman Brandon joins NeighborWorks America as northeast regional vice president. Straussman Brandon has worked with NeighborWorks America for nearly 30 years on staff and as a consultant, in field operations and the organizational assessment division, and as instructor for the NeighborWorks Training Institutes and Community Leadership Institutes. Prior to re-joining NeighborWorks, she worked as director of programs at the Housing and Community Development Network of New Jersey.
You Said It!

As a property manager, I want to thank you for writing this thoughtful post. To be a good property manager, you ought to be passionate about it, or you’ll get tired or give up easily. Not to mention . . .  —Ashley Mullen, more
In Case You Missed It
Jobs
Housing Development Director
The person filling this new position at Opportunity Council will have the opportunity to organize the new Housing Development Department to maximize a large number of emerging development and preservation opportunities. During this growth phase, it is envisioned the HDD will supervise staff as well as consultants to augment . . . Read Full Listing
Executive Assistant to the President
Telesis seeks a dedicated and responsible Executive Assistant to join our Washington, D.C. office. This individual will provide administrative and support services and will have exposure to learning about community development, housing policy, and urban planning while working closely . . . Read Full Listing
Senior Developer
Telesis seeks a Senior Developer with the skills, energy, and experience to lead its work on all aspects of development, housing, and mixed-use projects. The position requires a leader who takes initiative, thinks strategically, favors a collaborative approach to problem solving, and has a sense of humor . . . Read Full Listing
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Featured Bloggers
Bob Annibale, Citi ● Laura Barrett, Interfaith Worker Justice ● Murtaza Baxamusa, Sol Price School of Public Policy, USC ● Michael Bodaken, National Housing Trust ● Bill Bynum, HOPE Credit Union ● Steve Dubb, Democracy Collaborative ● Jamaal Green, Portland State University ● John Henneberger, Texas Low Income Housing Information Service ● David Holtzman, newspaper reporter and former planner ● Josh Ishimatsu, National CAPACD ● Rick Jacobus, Street Level Advisors ● Daniel Kravetz, freelance writer ● Alan Mallach, Center for Community Progress ● Jonathan Reckford, Habitat for Humanity ● Doug Ryan, Prosperity Now ● Josh Silver, NCRC ● James Tracy, San Francisco Community Land Trust ● Eva Wingren, Baltimore Community Foundation