Housing Domain

Below, explore Equity Indicators related to housing and homelessness in Fort Collins. Click on an Indicator to expand for more information. To dig deeper, follow the links within each Indicator.

The Equity Indicators Dashboard is a work in progress. More measures, explanations, and easy-to-understand graphics will be added, and the dashboard will continue to grow over time. 

Overview

The most common way people develop wealth in America is through homeownership, and we know the wealth of a typical white family is ten times greater than the typical African American/Black family (Brookings Institute). For decades, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC) assigned loan risks to neighborhood based on their racial composition. This practice became known as “redlining” due to the red lines surrounding neighborhoods of color on HOLC’s maps.

This system led to disinvestment in non-white neighborhoods and prevented non-white people from owning homes. While Fort Collins was too small to have been mapped in this way, evidence exists of restrictive covenants that excluded communities of color from living in white neighborhoods in Fort Collins. Many of these issues persist to this day despite the Fair Housing Act and other pieces of legislation designed to combat these longstanding systemic issues.

In addition to longstanding systemic racism and racial bias, for many lower income earning individuals and families of color, the path to homeownership is unclear. Understanding the complex housing landscape involves education and time that many lower income earning individuals and families of color just do not have. Education and time are just a few of the barriers to homeownership; some individuals and families may not be interested at all in acquiring wealth through the form of homeownership, as the lack of freedom and additional financial responsibility may be deterrents. Though there are many reasons people of color may not choose homeownership, we cannot ignore that for many individuals and families of color, the inequities start so far back that catching up to the wealth of white counterparts may always be considerably out of reach.

Homeownership cannot be discussed without also recognizing that many community members will experience homelessness at some point in their lives. Homelessness can be sheltered or unsheltered, and may stem from several underlying and unaddressed causes. The interconnectedness of many indicators related to housing, economic opportunity, policing may compound resulting homelessness. 

 

Sheltered Homelessness

An individual may enter a shelter for many reasons as some people need the resources and support a shelter may provide in order to get back on their feet. Shelters can vary from emergency-based needs to more long-term assistance with many options in between for those seeking faith-based support and/or specific needs for youth. The sheltered homelessness indicator shows the number of people experiencing sheltered homelessness during one particular point in time each year. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a “sheltered” person experiencing homelessness resides in an emergency shelter or in “transitional or supportive housing for homeless persons who originally came from the streets or emergency shelters.” The number of people experiencing sheltered homelessness is gathered during the annual “Point in Time” count conducted by community organizations.

 

Source: City of Fort Collins Social Sustainability Department – Gaps Analysis, 2019.

Unsheltered Homelessness

Some individuals choose unsheltered homelessness because they don’t desire to live in a home and in addition, shelters can be overcrowded, which can be retraumatizing. Shelters can also often lack a diversity of services including services for mental health, people of color and the LGBTQ+IA community. There are many reasons a person chooses unsheltered homelessness over some form of housing but this form of homelessness if often more chronic and requires more resources. The unsheltered homelessness indicator shows the number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness during one particular point in time each year. Just like sheltered homelessness, the number of people experiencing unsheltered homelessness is gathered during the annual “Point in Time” count conducted by community organizations.

Many assume that homelessness is a desired state or that one factor alone leads an individual to a life on the streets. First, we must educate ourselves to better understand the complex situations that lead to an unhoused outcome.  Addressing inequities in homelessness requires examining each of the factors for gaps and opportunities for improvement. A community-wide commitment to providing equitable options and services, including vulnerability and risk assessments for people experiencing homelessness, is paramount.

 

Source: City of Fort Collins Social Sustainability Department – Gaps Analysis, 2019.

Home Ownership

Owning a home is one of the most effective ways for a family to grow wealth. But, historical practices like redlining prevented Black and Hispanic communities from growing wealth through the systematic prevention of securing loans to buy a house. Even in Fort Collins, restrictive covenants prevent people of color from buying houses in certain areas. While it may be true that some community members choose not to pursue homeownership for various reasons, it cannot be ignored the systemic and racist policies that existed across the nation, even in Fort Collins, that have deepened the wealth gap between communities of color and white community members.

Another issue to consider is that through the practice of redlining, white neighborhoods across the country were able to grow personal wealth while home values increased. Neighborhoods of color have not grown in value at the same rate because of lack of investments made in neighborhoods of color compared to white neighborhoods. In Fort Collins, the City may be able to influence the rate of investment in more diverse, generally underdeveloped neighborhoods, and should also consider the impact of such investment on gentrification and potential displacement risks that could accompany investment.

 

Source: American Community Survey 5-year estimates, 2018.

Housing Cost Burden

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Source: American Community Survey Microdata 5-year estimates, 2018.