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The National Women’s Law Center, in collaboration with the Insight Center and Groundwork Collaborative, released The Roots of Discriminatory Housing Policy: Moving Toward Gender Justice in Our Economy, a report that underscores the links between housing justice and gender justice and outlines solutions to advance housing as a public good. The release comes on the heels of the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) report: prices went up 8.5% year over year in July and rents rose 6.3% from July 2021 to July 2022, the highest rate in over 35 years.

“Women have always taken on the heaviest burden of a socioeconomic system that was designed to profit from their underpaid and undervalued labor,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center. “In this powerful collaboration, my colleagues excavate the harmful housing policy decisions that litter our history and created the mess we face today. And, importantly, this paper reminds us of the better policy choices and sensible solutions that can put us on a path to a more equitable tomorrow.”

Stable housing is an essential part of families’ economic security – and a critical part of a healthy, sustainable economy.

Dr. Rakeen Mabud, chief economist and managing director of policy and research at Groundwork

Through critical analysis and historical examination, the paper unravels the housing crisis in this country, its disproportionate impact on women of color, and its roots in centuries of underinvestment and racist, sexist, and ableist policies that helped white men build wealth while stripping wealth from women, people of color, and people with disabilities.

Women – particularly women of color – were already more likely than white non-Hispanic men to spend the majority of their income on housing before the pandemic. Black and Latina women have consistently been more likely than white, non-Hispanic men to be behind on rent and mortgage payments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Stable housing is an essential part of families’ economic security – and a critical part of a healthy, sustainable economy,” said Dr. Rakeen Mabud, chief economist and managing director of policy and research at Groundwork. “Policymakers must use every available tool to address the acute crisis that so many women and families are facing today.”

Andrea Flynn, senior director at the Insight Center added, “Safe, accessible, and affordable housing must be invested in not as a commodity, but as a public good. Housing shapes opportunities and outcomes related to employment, education, health, transportation, caregiving, and overall well being across generations. A safe home, in a community full of opportunity, is a prerequisite to human flourishing and economic security.”

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