The Hope Policy Institute reports that finds there is a 26.3 percent gap between Black and white homeownership in Arkansas — higher than the gap during the 2008 housing crisis. The report found that COVID-19 exacerbated the disparate impacts of market conditions, and mortgage lending practices as well as loose rental protections further widened the homeownership gap between white families and Black and Hispanic families.
The Hope Policy Institute is the policy division of the Hope Enterprise Corporation and Hope Credit Union, based in Jackson, Miss. Through independent analysis, the Policy Institute influences policies that affect the allocation of resources throughout the Deep South with the goal of facilitating an environment in which people can prosper.
The Institute conducted a two-part survey, including over 400 homeowners and over 100 renters to capture an in-depth picture of the renting and home buying experience across the state. Through an analysis of both qualitative and quantitative data, the report pinpoints the factors driving the racial disparities in the housing crisis, including affordable quality housing, lack of access to capital and COVID-19’s impact.
The researchers found that a significant number of Arkansans were struggling with their rent, with nearly one in four being behind on rent at the end of August. The racial disparities were apparent with 40 percent of Black renters and 20 percent of Hispanic renters behind on rent, in contrast to just 15 percent of white renters at that time.
“The housing crisis in Arkansas and its disproportionate impact on Black and Hispanic households is a reflection of systemic inequities that have historically prevented Black and Brown families from accessing a piece of the American dream. Add to that a pandemic that also disproportionately impacts these same communities and you have families struggling to find and keep housing during one of our country’s most precarious times,” said Calandra Davis, senior policy analyst at HOPE. “All Arkansans should be able to see their dreams of homeownership, wealth building and economic mobility come to fruition and it is incumbent on policymakers to remove barriers that have long stood in their way.”
In the report, the Hope Policy Institute called on local, state and national policymakers to address the housing crisis in Arkansas through the following recommendations:
- Ensuring COVID relief dollars are distributed quickly and equitably, particularly the Arkansas Rent Relief Program and the Arkansas Homeowner Assistance Fund.
- Extending credit and down payment assistance to borrowers impacted by discriminatory housing and lending practices.
- Using non-traditional credit in the lending process, allowing utility bills or rent to evaluate a borrower’s credit profile.
- Expanding and enforcing state fair housing laws.
The full report can be read here.