Spotlight on the IMD | Webinar Recap
Webinar | Spotlight on the IMD
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ULI Chicago’s WLI Launches “Equity in Real Estate” Series Focusing on Racial Disparity in Lending
ULI Chicago Women’s Leadership Initiative (WLI) hosted the first program in a 3-part series titled “Equity in Real Estate,” focusing on racial equity in the real estate industry last week. City of Chicago Department of Housing Commissioner Marisa Novara and Chief Equity Officer Candace Moore were the first of the series guest speakers and applied a modern lens to discussing the damaging and insidious legacy of racist policies and practices of the lending and housing industries. They framed the discussion by first describing the numerous historically racist laws and practices in effect for over a century following the Civil War, such as restrictive covenants, blockbusting, redlining and contract buying, and their effect in segregating the black population in our city. Even though overtly racist laws, policies, and practices are no longer allowed, they described how the resulting segregation continues to facilitate discriminatory outcomes in access to quality healthcare, education, and other resources, even when decisions are made based on seemingly race-neutral criteria.
As the first Chief Equity Officer in Chicago, Ms. Moore discussed her mission to build capacity across City governments – to learn what equity means, to rethink our systemic structure, and to build a culture that allows us to continue to grow in a more equitable way. She described the flawed, even if well-intentioned, attempts to address discrimination by layering race-neutral laws and policies upon the initial racist foundation, and noted that we need to collectively address the faulty foundation in order to move toward an equitable society. She remarked that the pandemic has underscored the need for this role, as it has highlighted the literal life and death differences in outcomes for different populations in our city.
Commissioner Novara has led her team to deconstruct current housing policies, understanding that race neutral policies do not always lead to race neutral outcomes. She noted that a Racial Equity Impact Assessment can be used to evaluate things like transit-oriented development policy, the affordable housing ordinance, CRA lending requirements, and QAP’s for low income housing tax credits, to name a few. It’s not about “needing equal access, but more access.” She encouraged attendees to consider common paradoxes in our culture, such as why you have to get on a waitlist for affordable housing, but you don’t have to get on a waitlist to get an interest deduction on your mortgage.
Ms. Moore and Commissioner Novara acknowledged there is a lot of work to do, but they encouraged continued dialogue about race and individual reflection about what each of us can do to strengthen our system and to mitigate additional harm.
Be sure to register for the second event in the series which will be held on November 17th and will feature Natalie Moore, Reporter, WBEZ and Author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation. Ms. Moore will be interviewed by Collete English Dixon, Executive Director of the Marshall Bennett Institute of Real Estate at Roosevelt University.