The Race and Wealth Podcast Network

FHRJ 7: A Live Discussion on Housing & the LGBTQIA Community

June 26, 2020 The Race & Wealth Team on how to close the racial wealth divide through art, media, policy, literacy, and action
The Race and Wealth Podcast Network
FHRJ 7: A Live Discussion on Housing & the LGBTQIA Community
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The Race and Wealth Podcast Network
FHRJ 7: A Live Discussion on Housing & the LGBTQIA Community
Jun 26, 2020
The Race & Wealth Team on how to close the racial wealth divide through art, media, policy, literacy, and action

This episode touches on how LGBTQ elders deal with the issues of racial wealth divide and what are some systems in place to help them.

Show Notes Transcript

This episode touches on how LGBTQ elders deal with the issues of racial wealth divide and what are some systems in place to help them.

Dyalekt :

Freedom, home and the right job. Failure, hardship without reassessing judgment. If you're finally here to recognize the journey, we can find hope and real joy with FHRJ. The Fair Housing and racial justice podcast with Rose Ramirez, the civil rights investigator of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. FHRJ. The housing and racial justice podcast is part of the base in wealth network.

Dedrick Asante-Muhammad :

Good afternoon, everyone. In our closing panel discussion, we are going to try to move quickly so we can have time to engage in conversations with you all take question and answers. My name is Dedrick Asante-Muhammad. I'm Chief of Race, Wealth and Community at NCRCddd. The National Community Reinvestment Coalition. Most of us are based on the fourth floor here, very excited to be a part of this and to be able to moderate this panel my focus is on racial wealth divide racial wealth inequality, particularly. Particularly how LGBTQ elders deal with the issues of racial wealth divide. There isn't much information out there on it. But you know, I always tell people, if there isn't much data, let's figure out how we can start collecting some of that. I know I've been talking to my team overseeing fair housing, fair lending and entrepreneurship. We do a lot of different types of testing. And I think, you know, that would be a place to start doing some of that work of actually, you know, we're doing some interesting work around lending discrimination for black women, these types of things, but add a sexual orientation as part of that I think could be you know, something that could really help raise the national conversation about how these issues intersect. And 2, someone who studies racial wealth divide, we also see that the greatest divide is in elder years, right? Because that's when wealth is built up. It's usually around 5060 before you start spending down your nest egg, but at the height of the nest egg, that's where we see the greatest racial wealth inequality, we'll have to see how that affects LGBTQ black and brown folks. In the elder years, I was asked to talk briefly about racial wealth inequality. I won't get too much into this because I know we have a lot of other things to discuss. But hopefully most of you are familiar. I think the general issues were highlighting you see this graph up here, median wealth for whites is around $141,000. Blacks and Latinos are known for having income about 61 cents on every dollar that whites have. But in terms of wealth, they have about three or four cents of every dollar that whites have so median wealth for blacks and depends on how you measure it but using median wealth, non depreciating assets around $3,400 for Latinos around $6,300 versus $140,000. Right. So you see this massive disparity, um, one thing I like to help highlight to if I can remember out of five, yeah, Okay, very good. Um, the disconnect between income and wealth. People oftentimes, will say, well, let's look at low medium, low income, median income, high income things once you make it to a certain income bracket, wealth disparity disappears. But as this slide shows, and actually I'll even show for the lower $18,420 those earning less than that, you see the median wealth for whites is $3,000. That's a low number. median wealth for blacks and Latinos is zero, right? So even among like the poorest Americans, you see these deep wealth inequality. And a basic critique I have is that most programs actually haven't really seen a program really designed to deal with racial wealth inequality. They have low income programs and median income programs. But if we don't, you know, but then we wonder why blacks and Latinos aren't doing as well. And these programs is never really designed deal with the deep wealth, acid poverty that is in our communities, you know, and so I think that's an important thing to know. Then I'll just highlight this last one about education and wealth. A lot of people assume we can educate ourselves out of this wealth inequality. But as this slide highlights here, do a 10 second presentation on it. If you look at White's high school diploma, GED, that's the blue median wealth 64,200 blacks and Latinos four year degree red and light blue around 37,000 33,000. So white high school diploma, GED has about twice the wealth of blacks and Latinos with a four year degree right. So even among education income levels, see this great wealth disparity and you know, we've been doing a lot of reports about how the wealth disparity actually go here over time. It's not decreasing, right? If anything, it's increasing. So the country is on a path toward greater and greater racial wealth and equality. And I think part of that is because of the regressive economy that we've been living in for the last 30, 40 years. You can see from 1979 to 2008, before the Great Recession, the bottom 20% actually saw family incomes decreased by 7% versus increasing. People don't realize that that's supposed to be a treat for the top 1%. That's just not a barrier there. That's gone up. 224%. So this, I think this is a huge challenge for all of our communities, no matter how we identify ourselves being in this great regressive economy, but then expecting that we're going to have greater equity or equality in the midst of this great progressive economy. So with all that, that's the kind of stuff I focus on. I'm interested to see how it intersects on with the issues that people are dealing with with LGBTQ housing because housing is a number one source of wealth and I don't just mean owning a home. Even if you don't own a home having a safe affordable housing unit is still incredible part of wealth, even if you're renting it out, right, because it's completely foundational to the rest of your life and existence, particularly, I think, for the elderly. So let me just briefly do kind of three second introductions to each of the speakers. And I'll give each speakers five minutes or so to introduce themselves their work, and then we'll get into some questions and answers. So our panel includes if you could raise your hand we have a Roberto Jimenez, CEO of Mutual Housing in California. We have Steven Lucas, Health Research and Policy Manager, Council of large public housing authorities, Jorge Soto, Director of Public Policy, National Fair Housing Alliance, and then we have Aaron Tax, Director of Advocacy stage. So let's start with Aaron, if you don't mind, doing a basic introduction, and kind of two key points you want to get out in this conversation.

Aaron Tax :

So what I'm going to do in my portion here in my five to seven minutes, is talk a little bit about the things that we're working on here in DC as the public policy person for Sage. I know you haven't heard about anything in the news these days about Washington politics, nothing at all. But I'm not going to talk about impeachment. I'm going to talk about aging issues and what's going on there. And I'm going to talk a little bit about the Older Americans Act, which is probably the primary piece of legislation we're working on in the q&a section. So but I'm gonna jump to right now are two other things. And the first one is the Equality Act. By show of hands, how many folks in the room have heard of the Equality Act? So a lot of you not everyone, but most of you. So the short version of what the Equality Act does is it for the first time ever puts into federal law that impacts of course, everyone in the nation, explicit non discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity with respect to housing, employment, public accommodations, federal funding under Title six, credit and jury service. And a number of these issues ultimately impact housing, which is why I bring it up here today. You know, employment protections, of course, without being gainfully employed might be kind of hard to afford housing. I think the Fair Housing Act Amendments is, you know, pretty obvious, but also we have public accommodations. So anyone in any sort of public accommodations, which could be many of the places and spaces that LGBT older folks access would be covered. And title six, any federal funding that flows to any sort of institution would then be covered. So even if it's not technically considered housing under the Fair Housing Act, it would be covered if they get any measure of federal funding. So that's a really big deal. In terms of where that is right now. It has passed the House of Representatives, and arguably the next steps would be a vote in the Senate, which we don't believe is going to happen because Mitch McConnell is probably not gonna let that happen. And unfortunately, President Trump has vowed to veto the bill. So it does not have a bright future right at this very moment. But if we ultimately have a pro equality majority in the Senate at some point in the future and a pro equality president, then that bill can become law in the near future. So we'll see what happens there. I should note that the Equality Act does explicitly referenced LGBT older people, which is kind of a nice thing. It talks about senior centers and some other places and spaces accessed by LGBT older people. The other thing I wanted to talk about is what's happening in the courts because it's very easy to focus on the president and on Congress and just, you know, forget about the judiciary. Some of these times. I have many folks in the room have heard about the title seven cases that went to the Supreme Court earlier this month? Alright, so a lot of you folks. So the the long and short of what happened at the Supreme Court not very long ago is the Supreme Court heard three cases, all relating to title seven, which is a non employment, non discrimination provision of civil rights statutes. And title seven explicitly bars discrimination on the basis of sex and a number of courts over the past few years, as well as the EEOC, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, have interpreted title seven to also bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. But not all of the courts. So there was a split in the circuits, which is why this case ultimately went to the Supreme Court, and they're going to make a decision about whether explicit sex protections also cover people from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. And you might be wondering, well, what does this have to do with how And there is a clear line that shows why this actually is very much relevant to the housing arena. And that's because many federal courts look to the interpretation of title seven. So again, the non discrimination protections with respect to employment in terms of how they're going to implement the Fair Housing Act. So if sex in title seven is interpreted to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the courts will say the same thing about the Fair Housing Act that the borrower discriminates on the basis of sex in the Fair Housing Act would also bar discrimination with respect to LGBT folks. And in fact, there's a case going on right now in St. Louis, Missouri. The case of Mary and Beth, how many of you heard of Mary and Beth All right, a number of you. This is a same sex couple who applied for housing in St. Louis, Missouri, and the place where they applied ironically named Friendship Village said we're not going to be a friend to LGBT folks. And we're going to bar you from entering our facility because your same sex marriage does not comport with our biblical view of marriage and barred them from from living there so they filed suit with the help of the National Center for life. Human Rights and CLR and the ACLU affiliate in Missouri. And the judge in that case said, we are not going to let the case move forward until we see what happens in the Supreme Court. So that, again, this is a housing case, they said, we're not gonna let this case move forward until we see what happened to the Supreme Court. And then we'll know how to better interpret the Fair Housing Act. I think that gives you a really good example of the implications of cases that were heard just outside Supreme Court not very long ago, be expected decision in those cases as soon as January but it might take until June, depending on how the courts feeling and what they're doing. So that brings me to five minutes. Maybe I'll stop there and pass the microphone on to the next group of folks. And then I'll get into the Older Americans Act during the q&a.

Roberto Jimenez :

So I'm from a farm worker family. I was raised in rural communities in rural Oregon, and I came to housing indirectly. I started my career working in HIV AIDS outbreak to Spanish speaking folks in rural Oregon. I was recruited into affordable housing later on. I later just two years ago ended up in mutual housing in Sacramento, California, which is a reasonably large city 500,000 people, but it is the heart of an ag community in California. It is one of the most productive agricultural areas in the country and 25% of all the food in the country comes from there. We're working on a number of housing types. One farm worker, we do permanent supportive housing. We're actually working on Housing Preservation for a Cambodian refugee community right now, and LGBTQ housing for seniors. The setting for the project is urban. But I would argue that most agricultural communities behave like rural communities, no matter what the scale of it is. Sacramento is the eighth most diverse city in the country. The demand for housing is huge. It's the fastest growing city in California. It's major homelessness issue just like all of the urban areas with California, and I was talking to my colleague from San Diego in Southern California, and they lead their project not with politics, we actually lead with politics. We found it in our rural agricultural settings, the building the support for the project was primary before we could go get the money. That said we feel very competent in our ability to serve these diverse communities. We really try to meet people where they are and not deliver a product to a community. The challenge may be in providing services in these rural areas. There aren't a lot of services available no matter what population you're dealing with. We're dealing with a number of quite different populations in Sacramento proper, there is an LGBT Center not dissimilar to what they have in San Diego, but that center is focused on serving you and there's actually a bit of antagonism Between the folks who want to build housing for seniors, the project has not been built. If I showed you a PowerPoint it would be a PowerPoint of my dream space. It will be built. We just found out we're getting funded through major state program. But even that man, even that money would not have been leveraged for it not for the Harry & Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, who reversed the policy that they have of being the last money in. Everybody wants to be the last in and they agreed to come in first on our project. So the project should be fully funded in 2020, and will operate around in 2021.

Steven Lucas :

Good afternoon, everybody. First, I want to thank Sydney for inviting me to be part of this panel. We were on the prep call and I was like I don't know if I really deserve to be on this panel. The reason is, you know, I I represent the Council of large public housing authorities. We represent 70 of the major metropolitan housing authorities across the country. We actually met at a conference the CSH corporate For supportive housing conference, and a session about aging and homelessness. One of the striking statistics out of that session that we were both that, that the aging population is expected to triple in the next 10 years. This is based on a study that was released recently looking at New York, LA and Boston. So you know, we connected after that session have continued and she invited me to join you guys today. So I'm just I really appreciate the opportunity. So my role at CLPHA is looking at partnership development. On AI. We have 70 housing authorities that represent each of them, that can be 10s of thousands of households. So these are apartment units. These are multifamily complexes public housing, and managing the Housing Choice Voucher Program. My responsibility is primarily looking at the role of health and housing, the ways in which housing authorities can work with health providers and health systems to better serve their communities. And, you know, really kind of better serve health systems as an extension, you know, affordable housing, public housing is a key social determinants of health and housing can be such a critical pathway to so many other things. As we've been discussing here, I do have one statistic to offer from my job. I did a study when I started at CLPHA. So my backgrounds in public health. I was actually really involved in the LGBT community in college, as well. So anyway, we were doing the survey of public housing authorities to say, Who are you working with? What are you working on? What do you prioritize what subpopulations you know, within these 10s of thousands of people that you serve? Are there any health programs specifically tailored to them? And I inserted a question in there about lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. And I got a lot of questions from people as I circulated to different parties as I had just started at CLPHA. Why did you include this? Why are we curious about this? And it just reminded me as a queer person and someone who really believes in the power of data and telling the stories We need to tell that you have to be in those rooms where other people aren't and asserting sort of why you're asking those questions at all times. And I think that's a good segue to say, I might not be running LGBT housing, you know, hats off to everybody who does that work. I can't emphasize how how little my day to day job, touches that work every day. I'm not a social worker. I'm not on the front lines, but I'm helping try to build systems that are responsive to those needs. But I'm humbled by people who do that work day in and day out. One thing I just wanted to also reflect on and I think we'll have more conversation. As I worked in public health, I started in Medicare policy and Medicaid policy. I focused a lot on aging and disability policy as I started my career. And I remember, this is another experience where I'm just doing my day to day job, looking at a form that people fill out for various social services if they're older adults or elderly and there was no line for Sexual orientation, you know, preferred pronouns, obviously not. And you know nothing about sort of spousal benefits or same gender partners on those forms. And so again, I asked questions, why aren't we asking this? This needs to be here? It's, you know, I think back then it was 2012. Like, come on is 2012 get this on the form. But again, sort of asking those questions in the right spaces. In terms of homelessness, we had a keynote speaker at our annual conference. It's called the housing is summit housing is health care, housing education. One of our keynote speakers talked about homelessness, and one of the things that means Matthew Morton, he's at Chaplin Hall and sorry, and University of Chicago. He said, You can't talk about homelessness without talking about LGBT equity and justice. And so, in our work, even though we represent housing providers at a very different scale and scope, the issues that that people face, you know how public housing is housing Last Resort, even though we're trying to provide permanent, you know, housing for people, not just it's not for emergency housing, but trying to get people homes for generations, those issues are all there. And I think one thing that we're all any, any way you're coming at this work is to remember the people we're serving, and that they all deserve agency and dignity, whether I think when you're poor when you're aging, society wants to give you less and less agency and authority over your own selves and your identities and bodies. And I think that's something something to be conscious of as we have these conversations.

Jorge Soto :

My name is Jorge Soto and I'm Director of Public Policy at the National Fair Housing Alliance. I'm really happy to be here. Thank you so much to Sydney for coordinating all this Dedrick for coordinating with us here on stage. I am with the National Fair Housing Alliance, and I want to say a little bit about what we do, kind of where we fit into this space and who our partners are. So the National Front Housing Alliance is a national nonprofit civil rights organization that dedicates itself to ending housing discrimination and to ending residential segregation across the country. So as part of that work, we are an independent enforcement agency, we actually do investigations of systemic housing discrimination across the country working with our local affiliates and file systemic fair housing cases in federal court. And we also have a community development arm and we also have a policy arm which I helped lead up. So as part of that work, we primarily, we're a member based organization. So my member organizations, our local nonprofit for housing groups across the country, most of most of them probably in places where you come from that dedicate themselves to essentially identifying and dismantling discrimination in their housing markets, whether that means an individual comes to speak with them thinking, hey, this, this happened, I said, I had a kid and then all of a sudden the apartment we were talking about was no longer available or something like that with any other protected class. Our member organizations will listen to that person and ask For more information determine whether or not there's a likelihood of discrimination occurring in that particular moment in that person's life. And then from there just dispersed resources to test for that housing discrimination, whether or not that's actually happening. And then if that is happening, they will help the individual who came to them file an administrative complaint with HUD, their local or state fair housing or civil rights agency, or even in federal court, if that's what they choose to go after. That's how they choose to kind of exercise their rights. And so a lot of office work is really driven by what our member organizations are seeing across the country. And one of the things that our member organizations for some time have been telling us and reporting back to us as we collect the annual information on how much discrimination they observe in their local markets is discrimination against LGBTQ people and in some areas where they come from where there are a fair housing and fair lending protections for LGBTQ people. They have opportunities at the local level to take action for those individuals who have experienced that discrimination But when it comes to our members who don't live in an area that have a civil rights protection and housing credit, that's a little bit more difficult for them to actually advocate for that individual. And so for nearly two decades, the National Fair Housing Alliance has supported expanding the Fair Housing Act and the equal credit Opportunity Act includes sexual orientation and gender identity. And so as part of that work, we've increased our engagement with our member organizations on how it is that they're enforcing the Fair Housing Act and on their kind of related laws, state or local level, and then kind of driven that to a place where it helps form our overall policy platform. And so we have spent significant time up to when the Equal Access rule was actually published several variations of it working with LGBTQ organizations at the national level trying to advance that that rule, the National Fair Housing Alliance is also the I'm the co chair of the Fair Housing and fair lending task force for the Leadership Conference on civil and human rights. And in that space, we coordinate a lot of national policy work and efforts to expand Housing opportunity for all sorts of folks protected under the Act under the Fair Housing Act, but also those who are not. And part of that has been putting on our policy platforms the need to add some differentiation in gender identity as well as to also amend the definition of familial status to be more inclusive of non traditional familial. I guess, I don't know how to put it on compositions. And so in that work, we've, you know, we have advanced our policy agenda that includes the Equality Act, housing opportunities, made equal act, as well as other other bills that add sexual orientation and generate that to other civil rights statutes. So just going back to our member organizations for a little bit, they're the ones who are really on the front lines, providing information, doing the investigations, and really reporting back on the level of discrimination that they observe in their housing markets. And I have to say it's really concerning how many of those members that I hear from who want to be able to help individuals who experienced that discrimination but don't have a way to really help them outside of advocating for them with individual housing providers or trying to get people in their community to figure out ways to help support them in that particular instance. And so, you know, we have dedicated a lot of time and resources to getting the word out about the need to expand the Fair Housing Act to include sexual orientation and gender identity. And we hope to continue to do so we're really happy and excited by the first ever vote in support of the Equality Act out of the House of Representatives and that's fantastic. But as Aaron mentioned, the Senate is not likely to take it on anytime soon. But that doesn't mean we can't keep trying. And that doesn't mean we can't keep yelling at them. And that doesn't mean we can't keep talking to folks in communities to get them to yell at Mitch McConnell as well. So we're happy to do that in coordination in partnership with all the folks here. And one last thing I'll say is, you know, I'll probably talk about this a lot later. But yeah, probably a lot this administration is it's no secret that this administration is hostile to fair housing into fair lending and to, frankly, to civil rights. And it's not that they just oppose the expansion of those civil rights. It's that they actually want to diminish the existing protections that we have and that means that all around work means all of that means that we are in a situation as advocates as service providers, local or at the federal level or at the state level, whatever the level is, we are in a situation where we need to really consider collective liberation as a serious approach to all of our work. And that means that not leaving anybody behind in the process. That means that discussing the intersectionality of our issues, as they relate to race, national origin, sexuality, gender, identity, religion, all of the reasons why someone might hold bias against someone, we need to consider all of our work in that context. And I think that our communities have done a better job of working outside of our silos and I think that that's really important, we should consider strengthening that so I'll stop there.