Racial segregation runs deep in San José, report says
While activists argue that San José’s housing policies are inherently separate, a study undertaken by the city shows just how deep racial disparities are.
“The main takeaway is that the legacy of past segregation is still alive and well,” said Kristen Clements, the political group’s division chief in the city’s housing department. “It’s still visible in who lives where in the city.”
The city discussed its Fair Housing Preliminary Assessment (AFH), an effort to give residents equal access to housing, at Tuesday’s city council meeting. Officials will continue to work on the assessment, adding strategies that increase homeownership opportunities for blacks and Latinos throughout the rest of the year.
The Housing and Community Development Commission will also discuss the report at a later date. The council is expected to hear a revised AFH report early next year, when the city hopes to incorporate its findings into a draft housing plan.
The city began its first fair housing assessment in 2019. It was due to be heard by council in the spring of 2020, but COVID-19 has forced the housing department to redirect its resources to responding to the pandemic.
The AFH project shows that large patterns of housing segregation continue, with racial and income disparities depending on which side of Highway 101 residents live. Residents tend to be whiter west of the highway, with high concentrations of white neighborhoods in Willow Glen and Cambrian, and some concentrations of Asian residents. East of 101, residents tend to be Latino and Asian, with high concentrations at Alum Rock.
City Councilor Magdalena Carrasco said the neighborhoods east of Highway 101 did not happen by accident.
“It was designed intentionally and it was designed by politics,” said Carrasco, who represents East San Jose, including Alum Rock.
She said she loved her neighborhood because of its history, its people and “how vibrant it is.”
“We don’t like injustices,” she said. “We don’t like how under-resourced and the problems that arose.”
Vice Mayor Chappie Jones, who grew up in Sacramento next to a wastewater treatment plant, said he noticed there was a distinct difference between his neighborhood and others.
“It was an added realization that something just was wrong,” Jones said.
He said he wanted to combat the impacts of displacement and make it easier for black Americans to own property because he himself has experienced housing discrimination.
“I just want to make it clear that part of my main focus is to reach out to a group in San Jose that is marginalized and on the brink of extinction,” Jones said. “If you look at the African American population in San José, it’s dropping dramatically. And if we don’t take action to address that and provide some stability, then in 10, 20, 30 years the people will not be there. “
He said he was eager to work with the federal government, as last week the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a $ 100 million initiative to boost home ownership. Blacks in historically marked neighborhoods.
Clements said the city is also aiming to look at more disaggregated data, particularly among Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPIs) in the city, to better note how ethnicity and income are taken. taken into account in home ownership. Disaggregating the AAPI data would involve examining individual ethnic groups among the AAPIs who have large disparities in health and income.
According to the assessment, black residents, although they make up 2.5% of the population, make up 17% of the homeless population. Native Americans represent 7.4% of homeless residents while they represent less than 1% of the city’s population. Latinos make up 43.7% of the homeless population while they make up just over a quarter of the city’s general population. In contrast, according to the report, white and Asian Americans are under-represented in the homeless population.
“If you look at the story of 101, it’s no coincidence that it went where it went,” Mathew Reed, housing policy manager at Silicon Valley at Home, told San José Spotlight. “They often went through poorer communities, so they ended up creating a border between the richest and the poorest. Many of the divisions we live in are political decisions that have been used to separate people by race and class. “
The city also found that San Jose contains 75% of the Racially and Ethnically Concentrated Poverty Areas (R / ECAP) of Santa Clara County despite having 53% of the county’s population and 14% of its mass. mainland, according to Clements. R / ECAPs are neighborhoods where the non-white population represents 50% or more of the total population, and the percentage of individuals living in households with incomes below the poverty rate is either more than 40% or three times the average poverty rate for the metropolitan area, whichever is lower.
According to 2019 figures from the US Census Bureau, San José’s poverty rate is 8.7%. Data for 2020 will be available later this year.
The AFH has found that discrimination in the San Jose housing market continues to be a problem. Groups such as racial minorities, people with disabilities and the elderly are disproportionately faced with housing problems, pressures to move and homelessness.
“I’m glad the effect of this on people with disabilities is being taken into account,” resident Kathryn Hedges said Tuesday. “We are so affected by the high price of housing in the area. “
Victor Vasquez, director of organization and policy at SOMOS Mayfair, a local housing and racial equity advocacy group, said generations were affected by the city’s housing policies.
“We must continue to think not only of the production of new homes, but of how to permanently preserve the homes we have and (return) these keys to property to those families… which have been denied for generations,” said said Vasquez.
The Fair Housing Assessment is based on a federal program created by HUD in 2015 under the Obama administration to better enforce the Fair Housing Act of 1968. In 2018, HUD, under the leadership of the Trump administration, a made the production of such a report optional.
In response, California passed Assembly Bill 686, which requires cities and counties to incorporate equitable housing initiatives into local housing policies.
“It’s a painful subject,” said Pam Foley, board member, who works in real estate. “It sounds like an action I can really take to right some of this wrong that has been going on for years and years.”
She noted that down payments are major obstacles to wealth creation through homeownership.
For city councilor Maya Esparza, whose district covers eastern San José, the problem goes beyond housing.
“It’s about how we designed the city,” Esparza said. “What we are seeing is how your zip code is an indicator of your life expectancy.”
Contact Lloyd Alaban at [email protected] or follow @lloydalaban on Twitter.