93% of zip codes in the top 100 US cities have become unaffordable for Black residents: report

93% of zip codes in the top 100 US cities have become unaffordable for Black residents: report

Gentrification is making urban areas increasingly unaffordable to African-American residents — and according to research by the National Equity Atlas, 93% of zip codes in the United States’ top 100 metropolitan areas are unaffordable to Black renters.

“The National Equity Atlas, a research initiative focused on racial and economic equity, compared rents and wages in the 100 most populous American metropolitan regions in 2019 and examined whether the majority of households of different racial groups made enough income to afford median market rents in their neighborhoods,” The Guardian’s Sam Levin reports. “The findings, published on Tuesday, (May 10) and shared exclusively with The Guardian, paint a bleak picture of both severe racial inequality and a growing shortage of affordable housing in cities across the U.S.”

In 2019, according to the National Equity Atlas, 69% of zip codes in the top 100 metropolitan areas in the U.S. were affordable to White renters — while only 7% were affordable to Black renters and only 16% were affordable to Latino renters.

Levin observes, “Forty-eight metro areas in the list had no zip codes at all that were affordable to Black residents…. Twelve metro areas had zero zip codes with affordable rents for (Latino) households, including Los Angeles, Orlando and Miami — cities with large (Latino) populations.”

Gentrification not only brings higher rents — it also brings higher property taxes. It isn’t uncommon for residents of gentrifying areas to leave because they could no longer afford the ever-increasing rent, but for long-time homeowners in gentrifying areas, dramatic property tax hikes can be a hardship as well.

Rasheedah Phillips, who co-authored the National Equity Atlas’ report and serves as director of housing for PolicyLink, told The Guardian, “Longstanding patterns of racial segregation are deepening. Low-income Black and Brown households are being pushed out of their neighborhoods.… and confined to the outskirts of what are otherwise prosperous cities.”

The lack of affordable housing, according to the report, is especially severe in California.

“Ten California metro areas had no zip codes that were affordable to low-income renters or Black renters in 2019,” Levin observes. “The Riverside area, east of Los Angeles, was the only major metro region in California that had any neighborhoods affordable to low-income people. That region is one of the most polluted in the nation, and even there, only 14 zip codes were affordable in 2019 — a sharp decrease from 2013.”

Sarah Treuhaft, vice president of research for PolicyLink, told The Guardian, “In California, incomes are not keeping up with rents, and we’re not building housing for people with low incomes.”

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