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Applying a Racial Equity Lens to Housing Policy Analysis [housingmatters.urban.org]

 

By Gabriella Velasco and Martha Fedorowicz, Housing Matters, August 5, 2020

In June, the Housing Matters editorial team, spurred by the national uprisings against police brutality and anti-Black structural racism, and the uneven effects of COVID-19 pledged a renewed commitment to racial equity. To manifest this promise, we committed to “reexamine evidence and assumptions in order to advance antiracist housing policy and practice,” and as a first step, we are reviewing five years of Housing Matters content to identify gaps and shortcomings in the work we’ve featured. In our role as research translators, we aim to arm our readers with the research and policy analysis necessary to advance antiracist housing policy and practice in communities and governments across the US.

In much of the research featured on Housing Matters, researchers disaggregate data by race to determine whether Black people, Indigenous people, and other people of color (BIPOC)[1] are disproportionately affected by the negative effects of programs and policies or whether they have less access to benefits provided through policies and programs. This disaggregation provides policymakers with the insights they need to develop targeted solutions to ensure more equitable outcomes. It can also help policymakers evaluate whether a law, regulation, or practice is helping reduce racial inequities or perpetuating them. Importantly, disaggregated data that is shared within a robust racial equity frame, acknowledging and fully engaging with historic, structural, and systemic drivers of inequitable outcomes, is essential to ensure that policymakers are equipped with the context necessary to develop antiracist interventions that redress harm and promote equitable outcomes for all impacted by a specific policy issue.  

While reviewing Housing Matters content, we realized we missed several opportunities to apply a racial equity lens to our research translation by failing to include these disaggregated data, even though the researchers featured did investigate racially disparate impacts. This observation led us to consider: What do policymakers miss when research translators and advocacy organizations don’t apply a racial equity lens to housing policy analysis?  As stated, equity-focused public policy work extends beyond the mere inclusion of racially disaggregated data. Meaningful work in this space requires significant power shifts and critical reevaluations of racist assumptions and systems. However, for research translators, a key entry point to this work is the inclusion of racially disaggregated data coupled with critical structural racism framings of these data that adequately acknowledge the historic and systemic drivers of inequitable outcomes.

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