Black and brown communities have an urgent need for housing to be prioritized to save our families, our neighborhoods and our voices.
“During this eviction crisis, Black and brown families are still struggling,” said HousingNOLA Program Coordinator Cynthia Thomas. “They had unemployment support to pay for bills and utilities but now that’s gone and the eviction moratorium isn’t in place, so they have to depend on their political leaders to assist them. That has not been working in Louisiana.”
For Black and brown renters working two jobs to earn the minimum $17/hourly needed to afford one or two-bedroom apartments in Louisiana, the financial burden is immense. Natural disasters and the recent actions of local energy company Entergy, makes living and thriving even harder for Black and brown families in the state.
On the national stage, Democrats are pushing a reconciliation package; however, provisions for housing infrastructure and affordable housing options are in jeopardy of being cut significantly. House Financial Services Committee Chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) has been outspoken about her support for housing provisions in the bill including investments in affordable housing and down payment assistance to name a few aspects.
Though this federal support can help families who are struggling to catch up on payments or avoid eviction, the road to financial and housing liberation for Black and brown people is one littered with inequities.
In Virginia, Marijuana Justice, an organization involved in the Black Freedom Collective, advocates for Black and brown families. Their focus is connecting tenants to direct care experts, legal support, and legislative influencers. “Public housing isn’t just about shelter. It’s about having a board, making your own decisions, and bringing services into your community. People in community housing are supposed to be running what happens in their community,” said Marijuana Justice Executive Director Chelsea Higgs Wise.
Marijuana Justice is finding new ways to help tenants reclaim their power with the launch of their virtual Coins Not Cuffs conference happening this December. It will address how tenants can support legislation giving revenue from cannabis sales directly to families who have been victims of the war on drugs.
The Freedom Bloc Executive Director Ray Greene Jr., believes using our collective voices is another key component to protecting tenants’ rights and keeping families together. “Tenants Unions shed light on how low-income mothers, particularly Black mothers, are treated with lack of compassion and are taken advantage of by developers and landlords,” said Ray. “Unions allow for the people to take control of their living situations.”
Cynthia also believes that Black and brown neighborhoods can amplify their power through community efforts. “Right now is the best time to start some type of community organization. Go to the City Council meeting…hold your leaders accountable even if you have to blast them on social media. If we hold them accountable we could see a lot of change.”