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Reversing the Impact of Restrictive Zoning and Interstate Highways on Fair Housing

WHEREAS, The mission of the NAACP includes recognizing and advocating for civil rights whenever advancement historically has been limited; and

WHEREAS, Discriminatory housing policies created conditions through state-sponsored segregation that limited access and opportunities for Black Americans, ultimately instituting a racial wealth gap that has been perpetuated through the reinforcement of residential segregation patterns, and fueled by government housing policies that were purported to prohibit discrimination; and

WHEREAS, Housing segregation persists because of these factors: federal and state housing programs that forced Black families into public housing by strategically limiting the schools and accommodations for Black people to one area, followed by the limitation of resources, the migration of power plants and high pollution manufacturing companies to the predominantly Black areas, the denial of access to equal education through the underfunding of predominantly Black public schools, and the refusal of equal employment opportunities as a result of restricted access to the city center and its job market; and

WHEREAS, Governments used infrastructure redevelopment programs, under the guise of urban renewal, to build highways that further segregate Black communities, and contemporaneously, the Federal Housing Administration implemented racially restrictive covenants to form segregated all-White neighborhoods; and

WHEREAS, The government used infrastructure projects such as highways and parks to split or, in some cases, demolish Black neighborhoods and wealth. While government infrastructure was purported to be a means of economic advancement, these projects destroyed existing economies by isolating Black neighborhoods and fast-tracking suburbanization trends that perpetuated segregation; and

WHEREAS, Black communities were often targeted for these projects because they did not have the social or economic standing to oppose them; and

WHEREAS, Statistically, wealth allows for people to invest in the form of education or homeownership, but financial assets beyond those required for daily living costs are heavily concentrated at the top of the income bracket, while those at the bottom of the income distribution hold essentially no wealth at all; and

WHEREAS, The average Black household income is about 60% of the average White household income, while Black wealth is only about 10% of white wealth. Given that many Americans hold the majority of their wealth in home equity, the inability of Black Americans to acquire property as a result of redlining and restrictive zoning put a significant limitation on the economic advancement of Black Americans; and

WHEREAS, Homes in Black neighborhoods are significantly undervalued, which is an additional limitation on the ability of Black Americans to participate in and benefit from the housing market; and

WHEREAS, Public education is generally funded through property taxes; thus, where property values are higher, public education is more efficiently funded. However, even in areas where property values are low but taxes per dollar are proportionally higher, public schools are still left with less funding per student than schools in areas with higher property values but lower taxes per dollar; and

WHEREAS, Children in predominately Black low-income areas are deprived of a quality education and fundamental resources based solely on the average income in their neighborhood. To the extent that education determines income and economic mobility, this poses an inarguable limitation to racial economic equality; and

WHEREAS, The impacts of restrictive zoning and racially targeted infrastructure bills are evidenced by the racial wealth gap, specifically disparities in the generation and preservation of wealth through homeownership that disadvantages the Black community respective to other communities; and

WHEREAS, The biggest hindrance to homeownership among Black Americans is affordability and access, with the First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit often not being received by its intended beneficiaries.   

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, The NAACP will advocate for government or private programs that improve access to homeownership through subsidizing down payment assistance and closing costs for low-income families in need of assistance, and other measures that improve access.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that the NAACP will advocate for and hold the federal government and the current administration to racial equity commitments that improve housing access and reduce the racial wealth gap.