In Black America, Access to Housing

In 2016,  Washington, DC has more than 250 families which include children currently housed at the D.C. General shelter, however Mayor Muriel Bowser plans to close the decayed family shelter by 2018.  Living conditions have been very challenging at the shelter for families, especially the struggle of keeping their children protected with the abduction of 8-year old Relisha Rudd.  Although  many construction companies are lighting up the night\’s skies with skyscrapers; housing developments have been rising in the city, along with the cost, and homelessness in D.C. is up 11 percent since 2011.

Back in 1949 the goal of the Housing Act was the realization of a decent home and a suitable living environment for every American family.  According to In Black America, 1960 Census revealed that 12.6 million, or 24 percent of all occupied dwelling units can be classified as deteriorating, decaying, or sound but lacking some or all plumbing facilities.  The census definition of substandard housing, however does not include deteriorated dwellings with sound plumbing, overcrowded dwellings, households spending in excess 25 percent of its income for rent, and environmental deficiencies, with defile ramifications in effect transform a standard dwelling into one that is substandard.  The construction industry was unable to obtain the financing it needed, even as a \”preferred customer\” of banks.

In 1960, 11 percent of all housing units were substandard, and those units occupied by poor families 23 percent were substandard.  More than 30 million people lived below the poverty level which defined by the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare as a family of four whose income falls below $3,200 per year.  Discrimination in housing started to take place detailing how Negroes often paid the same rents as whites but received less for their money, or pay higher rents for dwellings of equivalent quality which was presented by The National Commission on Civil Disorders.

Later came along The Civil Rights Act of 1968 which forbids racial and religious discrimination by apartment owners, homebuilders, and mortgage lenders, along with the denial of loans or the setting of excessive interest rates in real estate lending by banks, building and loan associations, insurance companies, or any other business enterprise involved in making commercial real estate loans.  The statue also authorized the Department of Housing and Urban Development to mediate complaints of housing discrimination, to hire people to enforce the law, and to publicize the provisions and procedures for making restraints.  Attorney General John Mitchell filed suit against the owners of a luxury apartment building in the District for falsely telling prospective black tenants there were no apartments available.

(In Black America, 1970, Books, Inc.)

(dcist.com/Rachel Sandon/2016)

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