This article was written by VHFA Spring Housing Fellow Christina Cramer
April is National Fair Housing Month which celebrates the passage of the Fair Housing Act. Passed in 1968, the act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, and gender. Despite the many achievements made in the decades since the law was passed, BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) Vermonters have yet to achieve equality in housing opportunity. Vermont remains one of the least diverse states in the nation and has one of the highest homeownership gaps between Black and white residents in the country. 72 percent of white Vermont households own their homes, compared to just 24 percent of Black households. High home prices, in addition to other factors, are pushing homeownership out of reach for many first time home buyers. Most disadvantaged by this trend are BIPOC Vermonters, as they have other historical and current factors that impede their abilities to become homeowners.
A new review paper, Homeownership and Economic Opportunity for BIPOC Vermonters, delves into the history of systemic and institutional racism as it applies to homeownership and its influence on multigenerational wealth. It also discusses the challenges and opportunities for encouraging BIPOC homeownership. It further examines the benefits of homeownership and its intersectionality with other sectors such as education, health, upward mobility, and other quality of life issues.
The paper examines the current state of legislative and municipal initiatives nationwide to address the housing related wealth gap. Though many are pilot programs, they provide a proof of concept for low income housing initiatives that may be adopted by communities to alleviate their lack of affordable housing or promote their diversity programs. The paper discusses the current housing situation in Vermont and provides insight into some remedial actions that would promote homeownership and diversity through various means. The paper highlights the importance of funding initiatives designed to increase home availability and affordability for first time home buyers.
Note: In addition to conducting and sharing housing research, VHFA also administers mortgage programs for eligible Vermont home buyers. Although we seek to apply best practices throughout VHFA’s activities, this post is not an announcement of new VHFA mortgage programs or changes to existing VHFA mortgage programs.