housing action


Housing Alliance Definition of Anti-Oppression


Anti-oppression is an umbrella term that includes practices and perspectives that actively recognize and challenge the many ways injustices manifest on a daily basis in our communities, cultures, and institutions. This term can typically include actively challenging the interconnecting functions of racism, sexism, classism, ableism, heterosexism, and ongoing colonization. 

Anti-oppression includes a commitment to critically examining how power dynamics and privileges impact individuals, communities, and larger systems, and a commitment to dismantling systemic, institutional and personal experiences of oppression in regards to both process (how we work), and product (what we work on) to help create conditions in which all people have opportunity to thrive. We see this as a working definition that will likely grow and shift as we continue to engage with these principles.

Statement on Anti-Oppression

The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance believes that undoing institutional oppression is foundational to our mission. Our mission is to lead the movement to ensure that all Washington residents thrive in safe, healthy, affordable homes. Achieving our mission of affordable housing for all requires an awareness of the current and historical forms of institutional oppression and a commitment to addressing issues of equity present in all of our local communities.

Institutional oppression can take many forms – from the redlining that once prevented African American families from purchasing homes using federally-backed mortgages to the legal discrimination that occurs today that allows landlords to deny tenancy to people using a voucher or housing subsidy to pay rent. Institutional oppression is rooted in discrimination and bias based on race, class, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical or mental disability, religion, national origin, and other identity groups or characteristics.

An anti-oppression framework includes a commitment to critically examining how power dynamics and privileges impact individuals, communities, and larger systems, and a commitment to dismantling systemic, institutional and personal experiences of oppression in regards to both process (how we work), and product (what we work on) to help create conditions in which all people have opportunity to thrive.

The Housing Alliance’s commitment to actively dismantling the forces of oppression that deny safe and healthy housing to our communities is reflected in our strategic plan. The plan identifies undoing institutional oppression as one of six strategic goals, and also weaves anti-oppression actions throughout all six strategic goals. We understand that this work is ongoing and begins with educating ourselves and our community of supporters about the intersection of institutional oppression and homelessness/housing instability. It includes a critical review of how we do business through an anti-oppression lens – from internal hiring and structure to creating our external advocacy agenda. And it requires solidarity and collaboration with sister movements, from anti-racist organizations to groups fighting for the rights of immigrants and refugees. Our work will not end until every Washingtonian has a safe, healthy, affordable home in a thriving community – and we will not accomplish this goal until our community is able to address systemic barriers that deny people this fundamental and foundational opportunity.


Links Related to Housing/Homelessness Issues and Anti-Oppression


As Seattle gets richer, the city's black households get poorer.
November 2014 Seattle Times article about growing racial income disparities.  

Racial Equity Toolkit 1.0
Our allies at Housing Development Consortium have a Racial Equity Task Force, of which we are a member. In December 2014, they released this toolkit that makes the case for why housing and homelessness organizations should integrate racial equity into their overall work. The document is a work-in-progress that will have additional sections and chapters added to it, as the task force continues its work.

Racial Restrictive Covenants: Enforcing Neighborhood Segregation in Seattle
University of Washington Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project article about the history of racial restrictive covenants in the City of Seattle and how these shaped segregated neighborhoods.

The 1964 Open Housing Election: How the Press Influenced the Campaign
University of Washington Seattle Civil Rights and Labor History Project article about King County's 1964 Open Housing Ordinance that would have banned racial discrimination in real estate sales and housing.

Race project | Homelessness in King County: Blacks suffering the most
Seattle Times article about race and homelessness that also features Emerging Advocates Program graduate Nick Maxwell.



Facing Race 2016: Legislative Report Card on Racial Equity
This report from Washington Community Action Network examines 34 bills from the 2015 Regular and Special Sessions that have the most direct impact on racial equity. While these bills affect all Washingtonians, they have a particular impact on disparities between white residents and people of color. The Housing Alliance contributed to the affordable housing section of the report. 

Filing a Housing Discrimination Complaint Online with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
Federal law prohibits housing discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability. If you have been trying to buy or rent a home or apartment and you believe your civil rights have been violated, you can file your fair housing complaint online here.



National Equity Atlas
PolicyLink developed this National Equity Atlas as a comprehensive resource for data to track, measure, and make the case for inclusive growth in America’s regions, and states, and nationwide. The Atlas contains data on demographic changes and racial and economic inclusion for the largest 150 regions, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the United States as a whole.

Racial Bias, Even When We Have Good Intentions
This New York Times article provides a comprehensive run-down of empirical evidence showing the prevalence of racial bias in just about every decision we make, from buying an iPod to decisions on whether or not to rent to someone.

Current Statistics on the Prevalence and Characteristics of People Experiencing Homelessness in the United States
This research data has some of the best race/ethnicity/homelessness data we have found to date. This fact sheet conatins data from multiple sources, including the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) July 2010 Annual Homeless Assessment Report to Congress (AHAR). This fact sheet also includes data from the 1996 National Survey of Homeless Assistance Providers and Clients (NSHAPC). Although these data are older, they represent the most comprehensive study of homelessness to date and are cited to provide historical context. Notes about differing definitions of homelessness are included as needed.

NLIHC Housing Spotlight: Who Lives in Federally Assisted Housing?
The National Low Income Housing Coalition published this report in 2012 breaking down the various demographics of households assisted by HUD programs.

HUD tells Homeless Shelters to Respect Self-Identified Gender
In February 2015, HUD released guidance for how shelters should house transgender-identified individuals, recommending that people staying in shelters and transitional housing programs should be able to access these spaces based on their self-identified gender.

Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
The National LGBTQ Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality published this comprehensive report in 2013 about the widespread discrimination transgender and gender non-conforming people in just about every area of life: education, employment, family life, public accommodations, housing, health, police and jails, and ID documents.

Injustice at Every Turn: A Look at Black Respondents in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
The National Black Justice Coalition took the above survey to create this report that "overwhelmingly found the combination of anti-transgender bias with structural and individual racism meant that transgender people of color experience particularly devastating levels of discrimination."

Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012
A regularly repeated study by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) sent African-Americans and whites to look at apartments and found that African-Americans were shown fewer apartments to rent and houses for sale.

This American Life: House Rules
Much of this radio program focuses on the history and enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. They also look at the issue of racial housing discrimination.

National Fair Housing Alliance 2018 Fair Housing Trends Report: Making Every Neighborhood a Place of Opportunity
This comprehensive report published by D.C.-based National Fair Housing Alliance presents data and recommendations on how we can continue to strengthen the Fair Housing Act of 1968.


For more information about the Housing Alliance's equity work, please contact Rachael Myers.