The Break Down of America’s Ugly History of Housing Discrimination and How to Fix It

By Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Oct. 10, 2018)


Home ownership is at the heart of the American dream. Michael Smith, his wife, Janet, and their daughter, Ashley, were living that dream. They scrimped and saved for a down payment while he worked full-time moving packages for DHL, and Janet, for Chase. Finally, they bought a modest home with a small yard in a safe Chicago neighborhood.

Then the crash of 2008 hit and the bottom fell out. In the space of a few months, DHL eliminated 14,900 jobs-including Michael’s. After sixteen years on the job, he was offered unpredictable, no-benefits, part-time work. Janet was out of work too, and now they didn’t make enough to cover even basic expenses.

That was bad enough, but a lousy, complex mortgage made the situation even worse. Michael told me that, in hindsight, he realized he’d been scammed when his bank had talked him into refinancing his old mortgage. The subsequent foreclosure turned their lives upside down. They lost their home and moved into a rental nearby. Their $17,000 down payment disappeared.

It’s time for the federal government to start righting some of the wrongs that the federal government itself caused.

Last week, I introduced the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act. My bill is designed to reduce housing costs across the country for both renters and buyers, urban and rural, and one feature focused on grants to first-time homebuyers (or those who have not owned a home in three or more years) living in formerly redlined or officially segregated areas. The bill also proposes investing $2 billion in assistance to families that are still suffering from the financial crisis, and it would help bring more private capital into low- and middle-income communities by strengthening the Community Reinvestment Act. Together, these provisions would be a meaningful step toward reversing the after effects of decades of discriminatory federal government policy.

We can do better. The American Housing and Economic Mobility Act addresses the lingering effects of housing discrimination, the growing housing crisis, and the policies that have held back so many Americans. This bill will help millions of people lower their housing costs and help millions more on the path to making the promise of the American dream become a reality.


In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, Elizabeth served as Chair of the Congressional Oversight Panel for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP). Her independent and tireless efforts to protect taxpayers, to hold Wall Street accountable, and to ensure tough oversight of both the Bush and Obama Administrations won praise from both sides of the aisle. 

Source: The Root

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