May 27, 2021, republished by permission.
By Cynthia Davis and Susie Shannon
In California, politicians and developers are attacking single-family home zoning. Yet they suspiciously ignore that homeownership is a crucial tool for communities of color to build wealth. Politicians should not take that away by banning single-family zoning: people of color will suffer serious consequences.
For years, AIDS Healthcare Foundation and its housing advocacy division, Housing Is A Human Right, have battled the powerful forces that champion a troubling trickle-down housing agenda. The push to ban single-family zoning is born out of that.
Politicians and developers say that by building more pricey, market-rate apartments, eventually rent prices will drop with the increase of more rental housing. Therefore, they say, government must loosen land-use zoning that prevents developers from building more apartments. The argument is flawed and self-serving.
The trickle-down housing strategy has left behind moderate- and lower-income residents. They can’t afford market-rate units, and they are suffering most during the housing affordability crisis. It has also fueled gentrification in working-class communities of color, where new, over-priced apartments are often constructed.
Cynthia Davis, MPH, is Assistant Professor at Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science and Vice Chair of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation Board of Directors.
Susie Shannon is the Policy Director at Housing Is A Human Right, the housing advocacy division of AHF.