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The Voice of the Black Community


Housing disparities boosted by COVID-19
Systemic inequities plague nation
Published Monday, August 24, 2020 4:48 pm
by Vi Lyles

Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles.

I ran for mayor of Charlotte to fight for our minimum wage working and low-income residents, and housing is at the forefront of that fight.

Since taking office, I have fought for affordable housing. Homeownership should be available and attainable, which is why I fought for a $50 million ballot initiative with a $50 million investment from the private sector that has made Charlotte a leader in tackling the housing crisis across the nation.

But, as August begins, our country is facing an unprecedented moment. Families are forced to reckon with the cost of their mortgage or rent, and COVID-19 has further unveiled the racial disparities that make communities of color more vulnerable to evictions and homelessness.

In North Carolina, the average household income for Black families is nearly $30,000 less than that of white households. In June, the majority of North Carolinians who worried about affording next month’s rent were people of color. We need to protect homeowners and renters from abusive landlords, lenders, and fund programs that make housing affordable and attainable.

The guarantee of a roof over your head should be a right, not a privilege, and it’s on Congress and President Trump to implement an emergency support housing program to protect families facing immediate evictions. Instead of protecting North Carolina’s working families, since the beginning of the pandemic, Donald Trump has rolled back the protections implemented by the Obama-Biden administration in the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation. In an attempt to appeal to his base, Trump has dangerously and falsely claimed that affordable housing would increase crime in neighborhoods.

President Trump has turned a health crisis into an economic crisis that is further exacerbating racial inequities across the country. From speaking untruths to cutting necessary resources for Black and brown Americans, Donald Trump and his administration have continuously stoked the flames of divisiveness and further devastated our communities of color.

We must act now to dismantle the systemic inequities that continue to plague our country. We need to reform Opportunity Zones to ensure they serve minority communities, not give tax breaks for development. We need to make investments in homeownership and affordable housing so that black and brown families have a chance to own a home and build wealth. We need to end systemic housing discrimination.

Normally, at a time like this, local leaders look to partner with the leadership in the White House for guidance and action. But since we don’t have that right now, it’s on us to demand what’s right.

This November, let’s elect leaders – from local to the national level – who will address housing injustice and build back better from this crisis. Let’s elect leaders who will help our most vulnerable communities stay alive, pay their rent, and return to work and school safely. It has never been more essential that we raise our voices at the ballot box.

Vi Lyles is mayor of Charlotte.


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