Where we live directly impacts our ability to achieve our full potential. Access to good schools, quality jobs, reliable transportation, and healthy food is fundamental to achieving communities of opportunity. Unfortunately, communities of color, and urban black communities in particular, are disproportionately residing in neighborhoods locked out of opportunity, or disproportionately burdened by housing costs —spending over half of their income on housing. In 2015, PolicyLink undertook a research project to understand the changing post-recession housing landscape, to characterize the forces that were undermining housing security for communities of color, and to characterize the policy opportunities that could address the challenges from a core value of equity – the just and fair inclusion of all – to ensure that a child’s zip code does not determine her destiny.

Housing is not only the single greatest expense for most families, it is also a key determinant in whether or not household members have the resources to live healthy lives and achieve their full potential. Bringing an equity lens to housing is about much more than affordability; equitable housing must also connect workers, residents, and communities of color to the jobs, schools, services, and community assets that will enable them to thrive and be healthy.

This article reviews current housing trends and proposes an integrated equity framework to create communities of opportunity for all - where everyone can thrive.


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