Habitat for Humanity is more than a nonprofit housing ministry. We have a vision of a world where we share one humanity, and that’s a world that we believe in and fight for every day. We are a faith-based organization, but we realize that faith alone is not enough. Our faith must be coupled with works and action.
The early seeds of Habitat were sown on a small farming community of Koinonia Farms in South Georgia by Clarence Jordan. Amidst racial inequity and unrest Clarence was considered to be a radical Christian by choosing to pay blacks and whites equal wages to farm, grow community, and build homes together. Despite much persecution, these early seeds helped grow Habitat for Humanity's voice and impact as one of the worlds largest builders of affordable homes; and preeminent examples of equity in housing.
In one of the more clear evidences of systemic racism, one need not look much further than a common practice called 'redlining.' Our great Nation has a history creating housing policies that perpetuate racial disparities. (See Habitat for Humanity international August 2020 Policy Paper).
In a 2018 article published by the Atlantic, the original map shown here depicts how "White neighborhoods were shaded green, and white buyers in these areas were generally approved for loans. Neighborhoods with large minority populations were shaded red, denied mortgages, and labeled undesirable. Fresno’s west side was red, and in his report, James Helming noted the “almost exclusive concentration of colored races” present there. He noted that in more affluent neighborhoods, like Fig Garden, “residence lots were sold under careful deed restrictions as to race.”
If a neighborhood didn’t have these restrictions, Helming noted they were at risk of an “infiltration of a lower grade population.” These deed restrictions, known as racially restrictive covenants, were another mechanism that prevented people of color from buying homes in white neighborhoods.
As an outcome of these and other realities, according to the Urban Institute, Fresno ranked 59th among California's largest 59 cities in economic and racial inclusion. Recent studies have shown a 20 year delta in life expectancy from those born into southwest Fresno compared with those born into northern parts of the city. Lack of safe and decent housing is one of the underlying reasons for this sad but true reality.
As an equal opportunity housing partner, Habitat Greater Fresno Area has a history of serving those who are often not so regularly served by the market. As an example, in 35 years we have helped improve housing condition for 2X the percentage of Black Americans compared to its county representation.
(See bar chart)
Furthermore we are committed to continuing to support the marginalized and undo systemic housing equity issues through our 'hand up model.'
A few of our priorities include:
+ Continuing to educate ourselves on housing and race
+ Remain committed to retaining and pursuing a diverse staff / board
+ Growing our renter and homeowner education housing programs
+ Furthering our advocacy at the local, state and National level
+ Continuing our down payment assistance program while marketing to all communities irrespective of any social identifier
(Fact: Many Americans get help buying their first home. In fact, nearly one-third of first-time homebuyers get gifts from family or friends to help with their down payment, and White homebuyers are twice as likely as Black homebuyers to get family help for a down payment (source: Shapiro, Thomas M. Toxic Inequality, 2017. Habitat's downpayment assistance program helps homebuyers secure their downpayment in exchange for volunteer time building their own homes)
For more in depth info read 'The Color of Law' by Richard Rothstein
The Home Owners' Loan Corporation used this redlining map to preserve segregation in Fresno
1985 to 2020 data per HFHGFA