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Will Biden’s Blueprint for a Renters Bill of Rights Be Enough to Fix the U.S. Housing Crisis?

Thirty-five percent of the U.S. population rent their homes. In general, the renting population tends to be younger, lower income and less white than homeowners, a byproduct of redlining. Redlining is commonly referred to as any racially discriminatory housing practice but originated from the government-sponsored exclusion of Black people from homeownership and white communities. Partially due to these practices, Black (58%) and Latinx (53%) people are more likely to be renters than their white counterparts (31%), according to the 2019 census. Since Black and Latinx communities are less likely to achieve wealth through homeownership and more likely to be subject to the rising costs of rental housing and stagnant wages, the average renter in the U.S. is considered rent burdened, meaning they spend more than 30% of their income on rent. Over half of Black and Latinx renters were cost burdened prior to the pandemic compared to 42% of Asian and white households. Black renters were the most likely to be severely cost burdened, spending over 50% of their income on housing. This number rose since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic when rental rates soared nearly 25% between 2019 and 2022. In no state can a person afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent on the federal minimum wage. With this bleak outlook on the housing crisis, the Biden-Harris administration, like other administrations in the past, missed the opportunity to step in in a meaningful way to ease the burden on renters by increasing the federal minimum wage.

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