Sunday morning, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry hosted a wide-ranging discussion on the aspects of America’s housing crisis that don’t get the attention they deserve: namely, housing discrimination, the impact of foreclosure on renters and the shortage of housing affordable to the lowest income Americans.
In the discussion’s first segment, panelists James Perry, former NLIHC board member and Executive Director of the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center; Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition; Jonathan Capehart, opinion writer for the Washington Post; and Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, a fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas discussed predatory mortgage lending aimed at communities of color. The panelists also noted the over-investment in and skewed focus on home ownership in the United States.
The focus of the second part of the discussion was foreclosure and its impact on communities of color, and on renters. As Ms. Crowley noted, NLIHC has found that 40% of households impacted by foreclosure are renters.
The segment closed with a discussion of the National Housing Trust Fund, which if fully funded could end homelessness in the United States. Panelists agreed that it is time to rebalance federal housing policy so it no longer provides disproportionate benefit to higher income homeowners at the expense of the lowest income families.
Host Melissa Harris-Perry concluded that mayors should strongly support housing tax reform and an investment in the National Housing Trust Fund as it would result in an investment in the exact communities that had been wrenched apart by the foreclosure crisis. We can end homelessness, she said, and not to do it would be a violation of who we are as Americans.