Myrick and Tenants Union

Mayor Svante Myrick addresses an impromptu protest organized by the Ithaca Tenants Union on Monday. 

Ithaca mayor Svante Myrick was one of 27 mayors from small and large cities across the nation to sign an opinion piece published in the Washington Post on July 24 that proposed restructuring the country's housing system as a starting point for ending systemic racism.

"If our representatives are serious about creating racial equity, the path forward is clear: We must dismantle the systems that keep disparities locked in place," the opinion article read. "Our nation’s housing system — and the programs and policies that perpetuate racial disparities in housing — is the best place to start."

Housing has always been a significant factor in widening the racial wealth gap in the United States, as the article delves into. The Federal Housing Administration, established in 1934, has has assisted in the segregation of communities across the country with "discriminatory redlining policies that secured loans for white-only, often suburban subdivisions that mandated the exclusion of African Americans" in addition to refusing to insure mortgages in and near African American neighborhoods," according to the piece.

The authors of the article also mentioned how the 2008 financial crisis disproportionately affect black families, which has helped further distance the wealth gap of white households from black households, a gap that has white households with 10 times amount of wealth of black households. They warn the federal government that a similar financial crisis is currently at stake if it chooses to take relief measures that primarily aids white households.

The piece also brings up the fact that there is a 30-percent difference between black and white homeownership rates. It also touches upon rental housing and how black and Hispanic families, who are twice as likely to rent than white families, are not able to achieve stability during this time with small stimulus payments and temporary increases in unemployment benefits. (For black families specifically, they face a 77-percent greater chance of enduring major rent burdens.)

Towards the conclusion of the article, the authors implore Congress to provide funds and resources, along with the $1 trillion in aid for state and local governments in the US House's Heroes Act, to be used by cities to fund safety net programs.

"Programs such as Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers, HOME and Community Development Block Grants have proved their success over time, but they remain underfunded building blocks of a long-term solution to the issues we face," the piece read. "Congress cannot leave for August recess until its members have provided the necessary resources to protect our communities."

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