June 14, 2023

How Decades of Housing Inequities Have Shaped Lives in Metro Detroit — and the Pursuit of Housing Justice


The United Way 21-Day Equity Challenge is designed to deepen our collective awareness and knowledge of the deep-rooted and widespread inequities that shape Southeastern Michigan’s social and economic landscape. In line with United Way’s mission to build equitable communities of stable households and thriving children, the 21-Day Challenge aims to promote a better understanding of and ability to confront racism, sexism, and other forms of inequity. 

As an Equity Challenge Partner for the third consecutive year, CHN actively participates in this initiative, which takes place from May 19 to June 16.

At the special invitation of United Way, we’ve compiled essential information to share with participants, partners, and supporters of United Way’s 21-Day Equity Challenge. We’re happy to the same information on our blog today.

Where we live determines where we work, go to school and seek medical care. It also determines where  we buy our food, where we play and what air we breathe. Housing is critical to our long-term health,  wellbeing and financial security. Housing justice recognizes that people of all genders, races, ethnicities,  disabilities, ages and more have access to high quality, safe, affordable housing that meets their needs.  

Why is housing justice needed? Well, for decades, people of color, immigrants, people with disabilities  and marginalized communities have been segregated and without access to equitable housing  opportunities. Understanding inequities in housing and how government policies have affected where  and how we live today is critical in determining how to move forward. In Metro Detroit, housing inequities have a rooted history in discriminatory policies and practices that have led to residential  segregation, unequal access to basic amenities and limited opportunities for low-income and minority  residents. The consequences of these inequities have been far-reaching and have had a significant impact on health, well-being and economic opportunities.

Some examples of policies and practices that have kept access to housing limited include: 

  • Redlining, the practice of denying a creditworthy applicant a loan for housing in a certain neighborhood even though the applicant may otherwise be eligible for the loan (Fair Housing Act)
  • Discriminatory lending when a lender bases a decision on lending on race, gender or religion. This can create a scenario where in Detroit, Black lenders are denied mortgages at a higher rate than white lenders (WXYZ Detroit).  
  • White flight, a term to describe historic and current patterns of white and middle-class families from cities to suburbs (JSTOR)

Numerous government-funded initiatives created a thriving middle class that intentionally left communities of color behind and excluded communities of color from generational wealth. 

Strategies that can be used to promote housing equity and access to opportunity include increasing the availability of affordable housing, expanding and investing in community development, and promoting  neighborhood revitalization. Community Housing Network builds affordable housing that is diverse and inclusive, where residents have access to opportunity and can be an integral part of the community.  Please see the resources below for ways individuals can get involved in housing equity. 

If you are facing a crisis that may put your current housing at risk, CHN may be able to help. Reach out to CHN by:

  • Clicking the “Get Help” button on our website and completing the Housing Needs Information Request form: https://communityhousingnetwork.org/ 
  • Leaving us a message at 248-269-1335 or (toll-free) 1-866-282-3119 
  • Texting “housing” to 248-269-1335 
  • Sending an email to HRC@chninc.net




  • Opportunity maps reveal where opportunity is located geographically and demonstrate how different groups of people are concentrated in areas of low or high opportunity.  Check out this opportunity map. These maps can promote community development and  affirmatively connect marginalized communities to critical pathways to opportunity, such as successful schools, safe neighborhoods and sustainable employment. 


FOR MORE INFORMATION please visit our website: Home – Community Housing Network