Address Affordable Housing Crisis, Educational Inequity & Voter Suppression, President Morial Tells Presidential Candidates

By National Urban League
Published 11 AM EST, Sun Dec 15, 2019
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NEW YORK (November 19, 2019) -- National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial urged the Democratic candidates for President participating in tomorrow’s debate to address the issues of housing affordability, educational equity and voter suppression.

“Housing affordability in the United States is in crisis.  Public schools are more segregated than any time since Brown v. Board of Education. And the voting rights of Black and Brown Americans are under constant siege from opponents of democracy. Yet the views of the candidates for President are largely unknown to communities of color on these issues,” Morial wrote in a letter to the candidates.  “Tomorrow when you take the stage for the Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta, I hope you will fill this glaring void in our national discourse.”

Morial noted that gentrification is driving families from their homes,  and a minimum-wage worker needs 2.5 full-time jobs to afford a one-bedroom apartment in most of the United States.

“Simply put, the rent is too damn high,” he wrote. “Mortgages are unattainable. What is your plan?”

The text of the letter is below:

Dear [Candidate]:

Housing affordability in the United States is in crisis.  Public schools are more segregated than any time since Brown v. Board of Education. And the voting rights of Black and Brown Americans are under constant siege from opponents of democracy.

Yet the views of the candidates for President are largely unknown to communities of color on these issues.

Tomorrow when you take the stage for the Democratic presidential debate in Atlanta, I hope you will fill this glaring void in our national discourse.

Gentrification is driving families from their homes. A minimum-wage worker needs 2.5 full-time jobs to afford a one-bedroom apartment in most of the United States. The foreclosure crisis of 2008 exacerbated the shortage of affordable housing, forcing families out of the homes they lost and into the already-tight rental market.

Simply put, the rent is too damn high. Mortgages are unattainable.

What is your plan?

Earlier this year, the National Urban League released the results of an analysis of state plans to confront educational inequity in their public schools. Only nine states of the 37 we evaluated had “excellent” plans.  An EdBuild study earlier this year found that school districts that serve predominantly non-white students receive, on average, about 80% of the funding white districts receive. Even in high-performing suburban districts, Black students say they face pervasive prejudice when it comes to access to advanced coursework, academic achievement and discipline, according to the most recent federal Civil Rights Data Collection.

What is your plan?

The National Urban League’s 2019 State of Black America was the first in the nation to document not only the extent of the manipulation and deceit that Russia aimed at dissuading Black citizens from voting, but also its shameful alignment with racially-motivated efforts taking place in state legislatures across the nation.  The unimpeded right to vote is the foundation of democracy, and nothing could be of more urgent concern to our elected leaders.

What is your plan?

We look forward to hearing your plans to address housing affordability, educational equity and voting rights at tomorrow’s debate.

Sincerely yours,

Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League