Speaking up on Race, Housing and Opportunity in Minnesota

In January, Nelima Sitati Munene, Executive Director of African Career, Education and Resource, Inc. (ACER) and Alliance leader / board member, featured in Shelterforce reflecting on the work of Equity in Place and its impact on local housing narratives.

The stories we tell ourselves matter. Narrative plays an important role in defining whose voice gets heard, how issues are framed, and what solutions are developed.

The year 2018 marked 50 years since the Fair Housing Act was passed, and a big question among housing advocates was, are we closer to achieving fairness and equity when it comes to housing?

Minnesota, a state that always makes the top of the list as one of the best places to live in the nation, also consistently ranks among the worst nationwide for people of color. The white population in the state is 79 percent, while people of color account for 21 percent, and racial disparities exist across all indicators. When researchers used statistical modeling to adjust for demographic and other differences, the analysis found that while demographic differences are partly responsible, many disparities remained even when demographic differences were removed—concluding that race and ethnicity are the key driving factors to disparities in accessing opportunity.

Homeownership rates display some of the greatest disparity. Minnesota has among the highest homeownership in the nation, but when the numbers are disaggregated, white homeownership is at 75.7 percent compared to 24.1 percent for people of color. The past five years have seen a robust debate in addressing housing issues.

In 2010, the Metropolitan Council was awarded a three-year $5 million dollar Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The Metropolitan Council is the regional policy-making body, planning agency, and provider of essential services for the Twin Cities Metropolitan region. The Council’s mission is to foster efficient economic growth for the region.

Because equity and access are critical underpinnings of the Sustainable Communities program, HUD required each grantee to complete a Fair Housing and Equity Assessment (FHEA). A Fair Housing and Equity Assessment involves analyses of a region’s racial and ethnic diversity, identifying Racially Concentrated Areas of Poverty (RCAPs) and High Opportunity areas, and describing public investments and policies as well as the jurisdiction’s fair housing landscape.

Due to the importance of this document and its influence on the Metropolitan Council’s long-range planning, housing advocates found it important to weigh in. The Fair Housing Equity Analysis Table was convened by The Alliance for Metropolitan Stability and the Center for Urban and Regional Affairs…

Read the full piece on Shelterforce.