Low-income women of color are “particularly burdened” by gentrification in Durham, according to a new report by UNC Chapel Hill students.
The public policy students are UNC Capstone Fellows who have been working with WomenNC as part of the NC Coalition for CEDAW, which refers to the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
The student researchers, who presented the report to the Durham City Council Thursday, set out to answer the question “How does gentrification negatively impact low-income women of color in Durham County, and how can access to affordable housing be improved at both the county and city levels?”
Their research found that rising rents in Durham were taking a particular toll on women of color because they are more likely to be single mothers and renters. They connected their findings to decades of disparities, institutionalized racism and displacement in Durham’s history that have laid the foundation for an uneven economic landscape today.
“The damaging combination of societal gender-based discrimination and Durham County’s particular history of systemic racism have contributed to disproportionately negative impacts on low-income women of color seeking affordable housing,” the report reads.
According to the research, nearly half of Durham County households rent, which means a 13 percent increase in median rents between 2010 and 2015 could potentially impact more than fifty thousand households. What’s more, the researchers found that about 20 percent of renting Durham households are headed by single mothers, and the vast majority of those single mothers are women of color. About 60 percent of Durham families headed by a single mother are living below the poverty level.
These women are at the “intersections of marginalization,” student Allory Bors told the council.
Because of wage and wealth disparities that impact women and women of color to an ever greater extent, rent increases present a particular hardship for these singe-parent renter households.
“This really is a women’s issue, a single mothers issue, and a women of color issue,” student Cara Pugh told the council.
The report makes four recommendations: Increase the stock of affordable housing in Durham, improve equitable access to housing via support services and tenant protection policies, represent community interests by bringing people impacted by gentrification into decision-making, and collect more data on the gendered impacts of gentrification.
Check out the full report here.