Discriminatory policies enacted more than 100 years ago foreshadowed Arizona’s housing crisis, an expert said Sept. 11 during a gathering aimed at raising awareness about the city’s lack of affordable housing.

The redlining map system segregated people of color to the most hazardous areas that make up South Phoenix. Meanwhile, White populations were encouraged to live in the “best” areas located in North Phoenix, explained Rashad Shabazz, ASU Professor at the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning.

“There is a national crisis around housing,” Shabazz said. “Every location has its specific challenges. Conversations like this are a way to understand what is causing the problem on a local and national scale. It also provides people with resources to figure out how to solve it in their communities.”

While segregation may have ended in 1978, the effects of the redlining map are still relevant today, said Camaron Stevenson, managing editor of the Copper Courier.

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Fuerte’s report on environmental racism found that people in Maryvale and South Phoenix who live close to manufacturing plants are more likely to be in contact with chemicals that cause respiratory diseases like asthma.

“Unaffordable housing is a direct result of lack of livable-wage jobs,” said Vice President of Real Estate Development for Chicanos Por La Causa, Nic Smith. “Traditionally, we think of the homeless population, and people with low-area-median-income, but what we are seeing in real estate, regardless of the income, is that housing is becoming scarce and a much larger of income, which makes it unaffordable.”

Joan Serviss, Nic Smith, Camaron Stevenson, and Professor Rashad Shabazz.

Joan Serviss, executive director at the Arizona Housing Coalition, said that marginalized communities are more likely to experience labor inequality that directly affects housing affordability.

In turn, housing accessibility predicts health determinants and access to food and public transportation, according to Stevenson.

Phoenix needs more than 160,000 housing units to meet its rapid population growth and solve housing underproduction, according to the Apartment Insights Data of 2019.

From 2010 to 2018, rent and home prices increased a 28% and 57%. However, Phoenix’s median income increased by 10%, according to the 2018 American Community Survey.

The survey also pointed out that in almost 200,000 households, renters and homeowners used more than 30% of their monthly income to cover housing and utility payments.

“I appreciate the creativity that’s being shared here. I feel like we need to have more of these types of meetings and add pick committees to share ideas because we just can’t count on the government to do it for us,” said Kara Holt, broker at the Moms and Pops of America, an advocacy group for senior housing.

Serviss advised people at the event to start with individual efforts to solve unaffordable housing. She also encouraged attendees to ask local organizations about the steps they can take to support affordable housing initiatives.