Authors: Elizabeth Wierbinski – Director, Housing Services; Tylah Worrell – Housing Stability Coordinator
In honor of Women’s History Month coming to a close and making our way into Fair Housing Month, we take this moment to recognize successes and shed light on the forward progression against inequity. Historically in the United States, there has been racial divide in housing and discrimination concerning property based on sex, race, family status, national origin, handicap, and religion. It wasn’t until April 11, 1968, that the Federal Fair Housing Act was enacted as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 to address discrimination, finally giving women the right to buy their own home in their own name, with or without a husband. However, disparities among gender remained constant and housing opportunities and affordability remained inequitable.
Safe, quality, affordable rental housing along with homeownership opportunities are critical pathways to building generational wealth and becoming more financially stable. Housing Visions is proud to provide equitable affordable housing opportunities for the community and maintains strong relationships with phenomenal organizations like Home HeadQuarters, one of the nation’s leading providers of homebuyer education and counseling, for their expertise in homeownership.
However, the work does not stop here. Systemic disparities still exist in housing between races, primarily to the benefit of white households, due to factors like displacement, discrimination in renting and home buying/selling, and inequalities in financing opportunities. Additionally, systemically marginalized populations such as victims of gender-based violence face a higher likelihood of discrimination in housing, such as evictions or rejections based on a history of experiencing violence. Housing Visions breaks down this barrier, proudly housing a multitude of vulnerable populations and partnering with impactful organizations such as the YWCA of Syracuse & Onondaga County, the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, and the YWCA of Binghamton and Broome County who provide the critical support these women and their children need.
Housing Visions is dedicated to taking an in-depth look at the work that still needs to be done within our community. We are constantly working to evolve and build a strong workforce to fill the gaps where needed. We continuously support and celebrate the phenomenal contributions and accomplishments of women who reside in our housing communities as well as within our organization and the larger community and are simultaneously evaluating our progress in diversity, inclusion, and fairness.
Housing Visions has been able to successfully house and stabilize many strong and resilient women who are survivors of domestic violence, mothers, Veterans, and more. We understand that equity and equality are not interchangeable and recognize our unique ability to answer the call for social justice by empowering residents within our communities. With our addition of Housing Services to the organization, we can directly address residents’ needs and decrease barriers to help them stay in their homes for as long as they choose. Many of the women who have participated in programming have been able to improve their livelihoods, better advocate for themselves and their families, plan for future homebuying, and improve their self-efficacy.
Lastly, we would be remiss if we didn’t recognize during Women’s History Month how honored Housing Visions is to have women in both leadership and direct service provision roles throughout the organization – many in traditionally male-dominated fields such as development, finance, construction, maintenance, and executive management. Progress would not be possible without the thoughtful contributions of the women working at Housing Visions as property managers, housing stability coordinators, maintenance, accountants, development and construction project managers, human resource experts, marketing professionals, and executives.