New research revealed that over 90% of neighborhoods in America's major cities were unaffordable for Black residents before the COVID-19 pandemic. This data comes from the National Equity Atlas, a research initiative focused on racial and economic equity, and shared exclusively with The Guardian on Tuesday (May 10).
Researchers found that Black renters couldn't afford to live in 93% of zip codes in the Top 100 U.S. metropolitan areas in 2019, while 69% of those zip codes were affordable to white households. Reporters say 48 zip codes metro areas had no zip codes that were affordable to Black tenants.
The situation is especially dire in California, homelessness and affordable housing have reached "disaster" levels. Ten metro areas in the Golden State had no zip codes affordable to low-income renters or Black residents in 2019. The only exception was the Riverside area, and it's known as one of the most polluted regions in the United States.
The overall study highlights the compounded effects of racial inequality and the affordable housing crisis in the country.
"Not only is there an overall shortage of affordable rental homes, but they are rarely located in 'high-opportunity' neighborhoods that have high-quality schools, safe streets, clean air, parks, reliable transit, and proximity to jobs, retail, and services," researchers wrote. "Instead, they are concentrated in disinvested neighborhoods that lack these 'opportunity structures' and are often replete with harms ranging from polluted air to decrepit infrastructure to excessive surveillance and police violence."
Rasheedah Phillips, co-author of the report and director of housing at PolicyLink, says "low-income Black and brown households are being pushed out of their neighborhoods … and confined to the outskirts of what are otherwise prosperous cities."
The researchers recommend local governments and cities provide reparation programs to address racist housing practices, invest in "low-opportunity" neighborhoods, create permanent eviction protections, and preserve and expand affordable housing in gentrifying neighborhoods.
You can read the full study HERE.