Corporate America has traditionally been content to sit out of conversations about hot-button issues. But as the Movement for Black Lives gained steam in communities large and small last year in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, a Black Minneapolis man killed by the officer who was arresting him, many companies found it difficult to ignore the pressure from employees and the public to take a stand.
Given the deep racial inequalities in both rental housing and homeownership in the United States and housing’s link to the country’s racial wealth gap, it is of little surprise that the affordable housing and community development world has recently received substantial investment and philanthropy from big companies looking to support racial justice.
Though the terms of the corporate loans are better, in some cases, than those of traditional bank loans, some affordable housing advocates think the corporations could be doing far more to move the needle on affordable housing development.
To start, Amie Fishman, executive director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of Northern California, thinks the corporations should be increasing their investment.
“Some of the contributions are fairly substantial, particularly in the Bay Area,” she says. “But not when you compare it to their profits and the benefits they’ve gotten from being in our communities. So we welcome the investment and encourage it. . . . But if you really look at the scale of what it takes to actually ensure everyone has safe affordable housing, it’s going to take massive investment.”
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