This week, Maggie chats with Jane Lyons of Smarter Growth, about the history of redlining in the United States and how housing discrimination and inequality still affects Americans and communities today.
Learn more about the legacy of redlining and how housing discrimination and racism continue to harm communities and society as a whole.
The Coalition for Smarter Growth: https://www.smartergrowth.net/
Follow Coalition for Smarter Growth on Twitter @betterDCregion
Follow Jane on Twitter @janeplyons
Jane Lyons is the Maryland Advocacy Manager at the Coalition for Smarter Growth, where she organizes diverse coalitions that support walkable, inclusive, transit-oriented communities. Her policy experience spans multiple levels of government, including the U.S. EPA, Maryland Department of Housing, and Montgomery County Council. Jane holds a Master of Public Policy with a specialization in City Management and Public Finance and a BA in Economics, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.
To learn more about Maggie and her coaching and speaking services, visit www.maggiegermano.com.
Maggie Germano 0:07
Thanks for listening to the money circle Podcast. I am your host, Maggie Germano and I’m a financial coach for women. I’m passionate about helping women improve their relationship with money so that they can take better control of their futures. Part of that journey is making personal finance education more accessible and less judgmental, which is why this podcast exists. Each week we’ll discuss a new financial topic to help you explore how you can make a difference in your own financial life or in society as a whole. If you’re interested in diving deeper into issues like income inequality, debt or money, shame, check out my new money circle community. In the safe feminist space women gathered to talk about money without fear of being judged or shamed. We will break down shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggiegermano.com/moneycircle to learn more and to join the community today. I can’t wait to see you there.
Hey there, and thanks for listening. I’m your host Maggie Germano. And before I launch into this week’s episode, I wanted to talk about some changes that are coming up in my business this summer. As you may know, I’m currently expecting my first child who is due in early January 2021. In preparation, it’s important to me to be ready to go on maternity leave in December, so that I don’t have to abandon my clients if I go into labor early. That means that I’m still taking on new ongoing coaching clients through August but I won’t be able to sign any more new four month coaching clients after August ends. setting this deadline means that I can focus purely on my clients for the entirety of our time together without worrying about the baby coming early and disrupting our work. I will still be taking on deep dive clients after August but if you’re ready to go all in and streamline your finances from top to bottom so that you can stop talking about getting your money right and start making real changes. Let’s talk. Whether you want to learn how to budget for good. Make a plan to finally get out of credit card debt, or save up for some important life goals. I’m here to help you. Visit Maggiegermano.com/coaching to schedule a free discovery call with me and to see if we’re a good fit so we can get started together as soon as possible. Now on to this week’s episode, today, I’m chatting with Jane Lyons of the nonprofit Coalition for smarter growth. We’re talking about the history of redlining in the United States and how housing discrimination and inequality still affects Americans and communities. Today, we talk about how the legacy of racism in real estate and housing shows up and what the government and individuals can do to change that now. I learned a ton of new information in this conversation so I know you will too. So take a listen and Enjoy.
Welcome, Jane. Thanks so much for being on the money circle podcast today. Hi, thanks so much for having me, Maggie, of course. So why don’t you just start off by telling us a little bit about who you are and what you do?
Jane Lyons 3:22
Sure. So, my name is Jane Lyons. Right now I am the Maryland advocacy manager for the Coalition for smarter growth. We’re a nonprofit advocacy organization. And our mission is to create walkable, inclusive transit oriented communities in the Washington DC region. So mostly, my work is in Montgomery County, Maryland, which borders DC. I guess the the two things to know about it are that it often tops national lists for being one of the highest income counties and one of the most diverse counties in the United States. So In my role, I’m a coalition builder. I’m a community organizer. I go back and forth between elected officials, community leaders, developers, and business interests, to really push through the policies and investments that make neighborhoods more sustainable and inclusive.
Maggie Germano 4:17
That’s great. Sounds like you wear a lot of hats in that role.
Jane Lyons 4:20
Maggie Germano 4:22
And how did you find yourself in this line of work?
Jane Lyons 4:27
Yeah, so I’ll take it all the way back. I grew up in a pretty rural part of Southern Maryland, you couldn’t walk anywhere, there weren’t any sidewalks, no trash pickup. Sometimes just for fun, my mom and I would walk three miles to the nearest grocery store. So I used to dream about being able to walk or bike to my friend’s houses. And then that became a reality when I went to college at University of Maryland, in College Park right outside of DC. So my world completely changed because of that shift in the built environment and became Very interested in cities and urban planning. And as I started to learn more, I started to see how we build our neighborhoods really reflects our values and affects almost every part of life. It affects job and educational prospects, your access to healthy food to green space. And in the United States, how your zip code literally can predict your outcomes in life, your income, your life expectancy. And I started to feel that it shouldn’t be this way. We can build our communities in a different way. So I worked at a lot of different government agencies at the federal state local level, on different housing, land use and transit issues. So I also started to get involved as a community advocate in montgomery county pushing for better transit service. So I feel really, really lucky to have the position that I do now. Where I get to work and all of the issue areas that I care about, I didn’t have to choose between housing or transit and I get to do that work in it. community that I really care about.
Maggie Germano 6:02
That’s wonderful. And I feel like I hear this all the time of how people choose the line of work that they end up in. It’s kind of like either from personal experience that they had in, you know, like you were saying the way that you kind of grew up and what you wish you had access to, and then suddenly having access to that and seeing how you might be able to influence that for other people. I just think that that’s, that’s really impressive and exciting that you were able to make that shift for yourself.
Jane Lyons 6:34
Definitely. Thank you.
Maggie Germano 6:36
So I heard of you because of an event that was put on a few weeks ago about redlining and housing discrimination and things like that specifically in montgomery county. I’m in Prince George’s County, so I’m not in montgomery county, but I had been sharing and posting about wanting to talk to folks about redlining and And how racism in the housing market and all that affects people. And so I was pointed towards that event. And so I reached out to you. Can you tell us what redlining actually is? I’m sure a lot of people have no idea what that means.
Jane Lyons 7:17
Yeah. And that’s why it’s such an interesting topic. It’s because it’s something that affects all so many aspects of how our communities look today, which I’m sure we’ll talk about later. But not a lot of people know about that history. So it starts a few decades ago in 1934, when the federal government was facing the challenge of the Great Depression, and for a long time, the federal government had been interested in getting middle class families to buy homes and to become homeowners, and they haven’t really been successful thus far. So as part of the green new deal to combat the Great Depression, and to further that goal that they had had for a while. Congress passed the National Housing Act of 1934. And that created, among other things, the Federal Housing Administration. And its goal was to help make first time homeownership possible for the middle class. So it did this by ensuring bank mortgages at a majority 80% of the purchase price with long 20 year terms that were fully amortized. And this FHA insurance made it a lot cheaper to get a mortgage. And that’s a lot easier for middle class families to access ownership. But to be eligible for this FHA wanted to do their own property appraisals, to make sure that these were low risks of default. So part of those appraisal standards were that they wanted to only be basically assisting communities that were all white, those that’s what was strongly preferred. So this not only excluded African Americans but also Jews, Catholics. Asians, other European immigrants that weren’t considered white at the time, and even racially mixed neighborhoods were deemed to financially risky by FHA. So, FHA had this policy pretty early on FHA as well as other housing agencies with the federal government. So it created an underwriting manual for private real estate agents that further institutionalize that. And then finally, it created these maps of cities and their nearby suburban areas that were developing at the time, showing which neighborhoods were desirable or undesirable, making it even easier to determine who should or should not get FHA support. So the most undesirable areas, which were basically the places where people of color lived, were colored red on the maps, and the most desirable neighborhoods were green. So this is where the name redlining comes from, is because That red color that were used on these FHA maps all the way back in the 1930s. And that that racial language became less explicit over time. But by that point, the damage was already done. And FHA was able to basically set the industry standard for how to think about race in neighborhoods and finance, finance.
Maggie Germano 10:24
Thank you for that. That is that you’re right. Like it goes back a long way. And it sounds like it was pretty ingrained in the housing market, just from in the lending market from the beginning. You know, when when they were when lenders were looking at or the FHA was looking at these areas, when they decided that something was undesirable, or an area was undesirable versus desirable. Did that kind of play out as like not giving people loans if they lived in certain areas? How did that kind of play out In actuality?
Jane Lyons 11:02
yeah, so it resulted in FHA not not giving loans not providing this backing. And so thus it resulted in areas that were deemed more desirable, having higher rates of homeownership and neighborhoods that didn’t have that approval from FHA not getting that investment not having those, the people who lived there becoming homeowners and building that type of wealth.
Maggie Germano 11:30
Yeah. And a few weeks ago, I had a podcast episode about the racial wealth gap. And we talked a lot about access to homeownership and how that really impacts families and impacts over the course of generations. Because there’s, you know, if you’re buying a home and then selling it for more money, that is money that has been coming into the family that can potentially be shared across other family members or to invest in further real estate and things like That and communities that are that were historically and originally not getting access to that were then not having access to that kind of opportunity for wealth.
Jane Lyons 12:10
Right. And with wealth building, the earlier you start, the better. So the fact that there started, I mean, these practices started well before the 1930s. And if you couldn’t start building that wealth, well, even if you do eventually start to build it, you’re already just so far behind.
Maggie Germano 12:28
Right? I know I talk a lot about with things like investing and compound interest and things like that, like you do need time. Time is like your best friend when it comes to saving money and earning wealth on top of the money that you have. And so if you have a now you know, 80 or 90 year, almost 100 year, headstart, you’re going to have a lot more wealth to be sharing across your family generations versus families of color that were not given that same opportunity. Um, so you mentioned that some of the language has become less overt when it comes to things like redlining. So where does that practice or that discrimination kind of stand now in the United States?
Jane Lyons 13:17
so it was officially outlawed, luckily in 1968, with the passage of the Fair Housing Act, which made racial discovery, discrimination across the board illegal, but of course, the federal government has not been great at enforcing the Fair Housing Act, and never actually enforced housing integration, the same way that we think of, for example, enforcement of school integration. One crazy story is about the first Housing and Urban Development secretary who was George Romney, the father of Mitt Romney, and he was the first and really the last HUD Secretary to actually try to pressure predominantly white communities to build more affordable housing, then to end their discretionary zoning laws that really enforced reinforced redlining practices. But for that Nixon, who was the president at the time pushed him out, and he had to leave his job as the Secretary of HUD. And Obama tried to do something with his affirmatively further fair housing rule. But its implementation was pretty quickly stopped by the Trump administration who actually tweeted about Affirmatively Furthering fair housing a week or so ago, saying how liberals are trying to destroy the suburbs by pursuing fair housing laws. So that was very illuminating.
Maggie Germano 14:43
That’s not surprising, since I’m pretty sure Trump and his family have been sued for housing discrimination in their own real estate investments.
Jane Lyons 14:53
That’s 100% true.
Maggie Germano 14:56
So how did the history redlining and the legacy coming out of the practice of redlining really continue and just Can you basically continue to segregate communities? Because I know that obviously schools were legally integrated A long time ago. But it’s obviously very true that a lot of communities are still very segregated. And so how did redlining kind of contribute to that?
Jane Lyons 15:31
Definitely. So yeah, when we look at the redlining maps from the 1930s, in the maps of where black and white people live today, it’s amazing how similar they are. You can you can basically tell the correlation just by looking at it. There was a study from the National Community Reinvestment Coalition. They found that three out of four redlined neighborhoods 80 years ago, are still struggling economically today, over 90% of the areas that are classified as the best area areas for investment in the 1930s. Those green areas are still middle or upper income today, and about 85% of them are still predominantly white. So it truly left this left this divide in our communities. And there were ways that places were able to basically continue on those practices even after even after redlining was made illegal. So white communities found a lot of different ways to keep their communities exclusive. But one major way that they did this was through exclusionary zoning, which had a history starting Long, long before the end of redlining or even the start of redlining. And continued while after 1968 still continues today. exclusionary zoning being the practice of first before the Fair Housing Act explicitly saying where black households could or could not live. But when was outlawed. It evolved into zoning practices to only allow one type of home, a single family detached home, which most black families and lower income white families couldn’t afford, because of its usually larger size, larger piece of land and building more affordable types of home like, like duplexes, triplexes apartment buildings that was made illegal in most American suburbs. And it still happens today, as I mentioned, when white well when too many W’s when wealthy homeowners and predominantly white neighborhoods block different types of housing like apartment buildings that might bring quote undesirable people into their communities. And I should be clear that a lot of people are doing this because they’re actively trying to be racist. It’s often under the guise of protecting neighborhood character, although what who knows what that means and how they’re defining that concerns about crime about parking, traffic, schools, or even just concerns about the design of the building. For example, you may have heard about this in turn Prince George’s County. in montgomery county last summer there was a zoning amendment to make it easier to build accessory dwelling units, which are also called like granny flats garden apartments, English basements, they go by a lot of different names. And a white woman from montgomery county wrote a letter to the Washington Post saying that allowing this type of housing would mean that montgomery county would start to look like Prince George’s County being a majority black and less affluent County. So, so many of these concerns are just obvious racist classes to dog whistles. And even when they are valid concerns, the outcome is still the same, which is upholding segregation.
Maggie Germano 18:47
Right. And I mean, even something you were saying very much in the beginning of the FHA loans not being given because of financial concerns, but it was like were they actually Looking into the finances of the people that wanted to buy homes in these areas, or were they just saying like, No, these are predominantly black communities or other communities of color, and we just like don’t want to help give those people funding. And I feel like that can be seen now to and I mean, I know you were talking that you focus on transit too, so we can like talk about that too. But with like the purple line going being built from Prince George’s County, going into montgomery county, I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about that. And as well as not having a metro stop in Georgetown in DC and how it’s because they want to keep like, riffraff out and things like that. And so like, a lot of people wouldn’t necessarily hear words like that or comments like that and think, oh, like they’re being racist. They’re being classes. They don’t want poor people coming around and having easier access. They don’t want folks of color coming around. But it’s not always obvious if you’re white is specifically that you’re not, you know, thinking about language like that. That’s why I think it’s so important to like talk about how these things show up in a way that’s not as overt.
Jane Lyons 20:16
Right. And so much of housing as a tool for investment is because of the projected increase in property values, and what our property values sort of reflect what we value. Oftentimes, that’s proximity, like, property values are high because you’re in close proximity to jobs and to other amenities to really good transit. But it’s also about what you want out of a community. Some people want to live in a white picket fence suburban community where every house has a cookie cutter. That’s the American dream for a lot of people for a lot of different reasons. Some people are more interested in other other types of communities. I love living where I live in downtown silver Spraying in montgomery county, where I live in a high rise apartment. And I’m totally fine with that I value that. And so there, there was definitely a perception that property values would not increase or would potentially decrease if communities were increasingly not white. So that shows you where the values were at the time and even today, how people still value racial homogeny within their communities.
Maggie Germano 21:29
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, like you said, a lot of the neighborhoods are still kind of the same breakdown across races. They were a really long time ago. And something that I heard a few weeks ago was that schools are even more segregated now than they were before desegregation, because the communities are so split still, and because schools are being funded by real estate taxes and the communities that have They’re, you know more homeownership and are owning homes that are worth more are going to have more taxes going into education for their communities. And that’s why there’s such a huge divide between the investment in schools in different communities. And that’s something I had never particularly thought about until I watched this video about it. And I was like, education should not be getting funded, then by real estate taxes, your kids should not suffer because fewer people in your community own homes or own you know, less expensive homes.
Jane Lyons 22:36
That’s so true. I totally agree. But it is, it does not make sense to fund schools with property taxes when property property values are so unequal, but it is really interesting because somewhere like montgomery county, the entire county is considered to be one school district. So theoretically, it shouldn’t have that problem. But the racial makeup of the schools in the country still follow the same East West racial divide that was created through redlining. So there’s been a really big and controversial debate recently about changing school boundaries to increase diversity among to balance other factors within the schools. But one thing that keeps getting left out of that conversation is that we’ll never really have truly integrated schools until we have truly integrated housing.
Maggie Germano 23:29
That makes a whole lot of sense to me, especially if you have to go to school in the county that you’re living in or within, you know, whichever school system is closest to you, you it’s not like, you can, I mean, we’ve seen it in the news of people putting different addresses on school applications so that their kids can go to a school that’s better funded, and then they get, you know, thrown in jail. So if, if by race communities are more homogenized, like you said, obviously, this would be too. So what are some other ways that housing discrimination and that segregation are still showing up? You mentioned those zoning rules, are there other ways that that is still kind of showing up in communities?
Jane Lyons 24:16
Definitely, in so many different ways. I mean, one obvious way is that black and brown people are still discriminated against when trying to rent or to buy a home. And even when they are able to buy a home, there was a really recent study that came out showing that black homeowners pay significantly higher property taxes, estimated 13% higher because their homes are assessed at higher values relative to actual sales prices. And there’s also been research showing the black Americans get higher mortgage rates. The black neighborhoods don’t appreciate the same rate as white neighborhoods. So yeah, it still shows up in so Many different ways in our society that I think that it’s important to, to say, as a society that not only is housing discrimination and segregation bad, but actively that integration is good, and it’s something that we should be pursuing. That was the idea behind, intentionally integrating schools. neighborhoods that are racially, socially and economically diverse, are really beneficial for everyone. We’ve seen that diverse communities have less poverty, fewer food deserts, more job opportunities, children do better in school, they have higher incomes later in life, better physical and mental health. So the fact that we haven’t been able to truly integrate our neighborhoods means that we have all of these other social outcomes that we have to deal with and bear the cost of as a society.
Maggie Germano 25:54
Yeah, and, and those are all things that we want more of right. We want Less poverty, we want better outcomes for kids, we want people to have access to food, which is one of the main necessities for living. And the more people don’t have access to those life affirming needs and necessities, the worse off society is as a whole, like the more services need to go to the people that need them, the more people need, or who are who need the social safety net, which we don’t necessarily have. And so that hurts more people too. And that was something again, another episode recently was about criminalization of poverty in the United States and how everyone benefits when everyone is better protected and better taken care of. And so those are the kinds of outcomes we should be actively trying to put in place.
Jane Lyons 26:56
I couldn’t have said it better than better myself. So completely true. I think we still have a long way to go for people in in the world, but in America specifically because of our history with race, realizing that we’re all in this together, it’s not us versus them and that we can we can raise everybody else up, we can grow the pie. It’s not we’re not fighting over scraps, we are an incredibly prosperous country, and that prosperity can be so much better shared, and we can have such a better quality of life for everybody.
Maggie Germano 27:30
I totally agree. Because we see this all the time. We’re one of the wealthiest countries in the world, and we still have a ton of poverty, a ton of suffering. People are going into debt and going bankrupt because of medical issues because they don’t have proper health care. The fact that there are kids who are going hungry and not having access to food is just it seems it should be mind blowing, that those things are still happening, but I feel like we’ve gotten to a point where we’ve just kind of either turned a blind eye or just accepts What’s going on and think we can’t actually change it. But it sounds like for you with the work that you do it, you think that it is possible to start making those changes. So what changes actually need to be made to start fixing these systems?
Jane Lyons 28:17
Yeah, it blows my mind. And I totally think that we have a moral imperative to do everything that we can. And there’s lots of things that we can do specifically, on the housing issue. Nothing is a silver bullet. I think that’s really important to say, because housing is so, so complicated, so multifaceted. And because it’s going to take a lot of work and time to undo the decades of damage that was literally baked into the fabric of how we built our physical communities. So I don’t think it’s something we should expect to turn around anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t a ton of short term things to make sure that everyone at least has a roof over their head, and then long term things to change that we can better integrate our communities. So one thing that the federal government explicitly did to try to reverse the legacy of redlining was the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act. So almost a decade after the original Fair Housing Act, and it was designed to encourage banks to invest in disadvantaged communities in the CRA is not necessarily my my area of expertise. But my understanding is that there’s still a lot that can be done to modernize the CRA. One of the solutions that I’m working on the most with my local advocacy that I’m especially passionate about is changing zoning, zoning practices to be less exclusionary and to legalize different types of housing, as I mentioned before, in a lot of places, and anything other than a detached single family home or a townhome is literally illegal to build and you have to Like the exceptions to build it, and that when we can build more diverse housing options, the people who live in those types of housing will start to look more diverse. So this is starting to be a bigger part of the national conversation relatively recently. Pretty. Not too long ago, Minneapolis took a really big step to legalize triplexes citywide and to ban single family only zoning. And a big reason why they did that was after examining the city’s history with redlining. So that was sort of a direct line to that realizing that action needed to be taken to undo that legacy. And other places like Oregon, California, Nebraska, they’ve done similar statewide zoning measures. I think it’s pretty amazing that abrasca was able to I think it was duplexes that they legalized across the entire state of Nebraska can do it and everywhere else should be able to do it too. So that’s one thing that I’m really passionate about. There’s a ton of other stuff that I can rattle off. There’s affordable housing set asides. Like for example, if you build 100 unit market rate apartment building, the county or the locality will require some percentage of those units to be made affordable to people earning less than the area median income. We have that in montgomery county. It does not exist in Prince George’s County, because it’s a policy that really depends on the strength of the market. So it’s been helpful in places like DC and montgomery county. And there has been talks about doing a similar set aside rule in Prince George’s County around the future purple line because the purple line is expected to to really make the market a little bit more hot there. There’s also expanding housing voucher programs so that people have more opportunity, more opportunity and decision about Where they want to live homeowner assistance programs. on the federal level, I would love to see the Fair Housing Act actually given teeth by implementing that rule. So there might be hope for that in the future. A few presidential candidates actually had housing platforms, which is something that doesn’t normally happen. Even though housing is such a, it’s like 30% of most people’s budgets, if not significantly more. It determines where you live and all your opportunities, but it’s something that still has hardly ever gotten talked about by presidential candidates. So it was really exciting to see most candidates put out a housing platform. For example, if Warren had a housing platform that would have tied federal money to localities with any exclusionary zoning.
And another thing that I’ll mention that people are starting to talk about in the mainstream a bit more is seriously considering referees. To black Americans. And I personally find it really difficult to learn about this history and to not come to the conclusion that there should be some form of reparations. I won’t say that I know exactly what that form should be. But I think it’s something that makes sense to seriously consider and also to re examine just how we build wealth in this country is homeownership, the best way, it’s really difficult for housing to be both affordable for a majority of people and also a good investment. So how can we ensure that people, if they’re not able to buy a home are still able to access economic opportunities without doing that and to find opportunities for their children? How do we how do we create these policies that reflect our values and don’t rely on this system that obviously isn’t working?
Maggie Germano 33:50
Yeah, no, those are so many really good points. That’s really, really helpful. And I think your last point about having other avenues For wealth building is huge. And I don’t think that that necessarily comes up a lot either. I know in the personal finance field, there’s a lot of people there being like, Oh, you just like you have to buy real estate, you have to invest in real estate. It’s the only way to build wealth and retire early and like do all those things. But for a lot of people, not only is it completely out of reach, or at least you know, somewhat out of reach. There are also a lot of people who don’t want to do that, who don’t want to own real estate they I know plenty of people who are like, I really love not having any responsibility to my home and like being able to just call someone to fix things for me because one of my cousin’s she’s going through the process of buying a home right now. And I had to warn her because she was talking about like budget for like the monthly mortgage and all of that and I was like, and also don’t forget that anything that ever goes wrong in your house again, you are going to have to pay for and so you know, someone might get it all together and be able to afford a home and then they might go completely broke or go into debt because they have to pay to replace the roof or whatever, you know, emergency happens. And so those are those are things to think about too that like, maybe not everybody needs and wants that avenue. So I totally agree with you of finding some of those other ways to encourage economic mobility in this country.
Jane Lyons 35:26
Yeah, that’s how I feel. That’s why I love renting an apartment because I do not want to have to do home maintenance. I don’t want to have to go along into me, at least at this point in my life. I’m totally fine doing that. And so I and also, not every not every home is a good investment. We saw what happened with the 2008 financial crash. We really haven’t taken the steps to make sure that something like that doesn’t happen again. So I think a lot of times real estate is more risky than people think it is. Especially the type of real estate that is actually within reach for most people.
Maggie Germano 36:04
Yeah, totally. And I know with the DC area, the prices of homes are just going up and up and up and up. And it’s like, it feels like it’s never going to stop and at what, at what point is it going to burst again, where like people just cannot afford to do this anymore. And I know with Amazon coming and building a new campus over here and with the purple line and having all of these things that are like, you know, in theory going to be good for property values and things like that, it’s going to start pricing people out even more and segregating things even more. So there’s those are just things to think about to have like, Is it just going to be this endless increase in value with no negative outcome?
Jane Lyons 36:50
Yeah, I think it’s it’s honestly pretty scary to look at somewhere like San Francisco and see that they’re, they’re basically us but a few decades down. Line, hopefully a few decades down the line, where housing prices have just gone through the roof and haven’t stopped. And it’s been really hard, really difficult for incomes to keep up with that. I mean, across the board, housing prices have risen so much faster than incomes have risen. And that that is one of the biggest challenges part of the housing equation and making housing more affordable as an income equation. And so it doesn’t happen. I haven’t seen it too often. But I think that it makes sense for a lot of affordable housing advocates to also be minimum wage advocates. And what you’re saying about about the purple line and something like that, that will theoretically help people get access to more job opportunities. It’ll only take 10 minutes to get from silver spring to Bethesda which will make my life a lot easier. There’s a planning Commissioner in montgomery county who she used to live in Prince George’s and clean houses in Bethesda and had to take three buses. To get there, and I think that it is going to be a really a really amazing way for people to get to and from places and to, to not just to get to jobs, but to so many of the other amenities that this area has to offer. But at the same time, we do need to be really careful about making sure that we’re preserving affordable housing, both both subsidized affordable housing that the government has put money into, but also just the naturally occurring, affordable housing that appears along the a lot of the purple line light rail route. So I’m part of the purple line. It’s a very big mouthful, the purple and quarter coalition housing Action Team, which has a housing action plan about with strategies for how to preserve the existing naturally occurring, affordable housing, also known as Noah, and how to build more affordable housing and to really put those strategies in place Before the purple line comes online, and there’s not much time left.
Maggie Germano 39:06
Yeah, I mean, it’s been slowed down significantly. I know. But it’s still, it’s a couple years away from completion.
Jane Lyons 39:14
Yeah, hopefully. Fingers crossed.
Maggie Germano 39:16
Um, so what are some of the things that individuals can be doing to push for the affordable housing allocations to push for ending discrimination when it comes to renting and mortgages? And just everything else we’ve kind of touched on with actively integrating? Because I know that a lot of these issues I mean, for me, so I’m sure for others can feel really overwhelming of like, this has been going on forever. It’s so ingrained half the time I can’t even see that it’s happening unless it’s happening to me. Like so what can those individuals actually start doing to start making making an impact locally?
Jane Lyons 40:00
It’s really easy to get involved because of how the US federalism works. These planning and housing issues are often really localized. So if you pay attention to what your local planning department is up to, you can write them emails, provide testimony and share your opinions on issues. And there likely is already a group in your community who’s working on those types of issues, people like me, so they can keep you updated and help to translate some of the planning jargon that gets thrown around. But I think the biggest thing that people can do is to is to educate themselves about these issues, since it’s not something that we’re actively taught about it’s not something that’s obvious. So I definitely have things to read that I recommend. Race for profit by kianga Yamada Taylor’s A great one, the color of law by Richard Rothstein. So educating yourself continuing this conversation, and then talking to your neighbors, getting involved with your homeowner or Community Association, because the number one reason why we haven’t been able to do something like an exclusionary zoning laws and most cases is because of wealthier white homeowners who are extremely good at organizing their neighbors to stop a new apartment project in their neighborhood, for whatever reason, so if you’re somebody especially who is in that type of neighborhood, your voice saying yes to new neighbors, no matter what their income is, can be really, really impactful.
Maggie Germano 41:42
That’s really helpful. And I think reminding ourselves that there are probably other people already working on issues like these in our communities. And so it’s not like you’re gonna have to start something completely new necessarily, but like linking up with those people and learning from them joining in figuring out how you can be helpful. And this has been coming up more and more and more recently, the more I’m talking about these kinds of issues, were getting involved as much as possible locally is going to be much more impactful than thinking about things at the federal level. Because I think we tend to think that that’s kind of what we have to do like it’s Congress or bust or it’s the president or bust. And that’s not necessarily true. A lot of things that impact us locally, are being created and legislated at a local level.
Jane Lyons 42:34
Absolutely, so much of what actually impacts people’s daily lives. Housing, land, use transit, where you work, where you live, how you get to the places that you need to go, it all happens at the local level. And that can honestly be pretty, pretty inspiring, pretty optimistic, are finding some hope and times that can be relatively dark and when you look at that Have a national level. So there’s a lot that can be done. And a lot that can be really impactful. So it’s that whole think globally, act locally. It’s definitely true.
Maggie Germano 43:13
That’s good to hear. And is there anything else that we haven’t yet touched on that you want to make sure listeners know, about this issue or the work that you do?
Jane Lyons 43:22
Um, I think the main thing we’ve been very focused on redlining, which is great. But I do want to say that redlining isn’t the only way that the government promoted segregation and exacerbated the black white wealth gap. So the government like just as a few examples, built racially segregated public housing, the Veterans Administration denied low interest mortgages to black veterans. We’ve intentionally built highways through black neighborhoods. I don’t think we I also didn’t mention racial covenants which even though there are Illegal now the language still exists so many home covenants to this day that this homes cannot be sold to somebody who’s black or Jewish. So Rabbi name is really just the tip of the iceberg. And that’s why I think like continuing this conversation continuing to learn more about it is really important.
Maggie Germano 44:18
Thank you for sharing that. Because I think you’re you’re absolutely right. It’s not as simple as just like one issue that was been outlawed in the 60s. And it’s just the legacy. There’s just so many other ways. This shows up and affects people and it affects people for generations. So I really appreciate all this information has been super helpful. And I’ll definitely share all those resources that you mentioned in the show notes. Is there anything coming up that you’re working on that you want to promote to folks?
Jane Lyons 44:52
Yeah, definitely. So if any of your listeners happen to be in montgomery county, my organization Coalition for smarter growth. We’re hosting a series called courageous conversations on housing, land use and racism, specifically about the history of redlining and segregation in different areas of montgomery county. So the sessions themselves are filled up and reach capacity, we only had 50 seats, because the workshops are going to be professionally facilitated. So there’ll be a lot of small group discussions where people can really think about their own life and how they grew up. Because of that, we had to restrict it to 50 people per session, but there is a waitlist so you can find that at tiny URL comm slash courageous hyphen combo, and I can also send you that link to include in the show notes, and the workshops will be recorded and all the materials will be made available online. So if your listeners are able to, to get onto that waitlist, they’ll be or they’ll be notified when, when all of that is posted. So very excited about those courageous conversations. I think right now people are especially interested in wading into those conversations. But this is something we’ve been planning for a long time. So I’m glad that it’s now even more relevant.
Maggie Germano 46:14
Yeah, that sounds really interesting. So I’ll definitely share that. So folks can either get on the waitlist or watch the recording afterwards. And how can folks stay in touch and follow the work that you’re doing?
Jane Lyons 46:28
Yeah, you can sign up for emails with the Coalition for smarter growth. Our website is smarter growth dotnet. You can also follow us on Twitter @betterDCregion. And you can follow me I’m on Twitter way too much @janeplyons.
Maggie Germano 46:47
Great, well, thank you. Again, I will share all of that so that people have quick access to that. But I wanted to thank you again for taking the time to talk about this with me today. I know it’s something that I’ve only just begun kind of scratching the surface too. And I hope that it encourages that this conversation encourages more people to educate themselves and advocate in their own communities.
Jane Lyons 47:10
Thank you so much for having me,
Maggie Germano 47:11
of course. Thank you so much for listening to the money circle podcast this week. If you like the conversations we’re having here and you’d like to go even deeper, join the new money circle community. In this safe intersectional feminist space. We will break down money shame and build community and safety for everyone so that you can find the support you need to gain control over your finances. Visit Maggiegermano.com/moneycircle to learn more and to join. If you’d like to get more connected with me, subscribe to my weekly newsletter at MaggieGermano.com/subscribe to learn more about my financial coaching services, my speaking and workshop offerings or just to read my blog visit Maggiegermano.com. You can also follow me on instagram and twitter @MaggieGermano. I look forward to hearing from you. Bye bye
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