Fair Housing Intro

fair housing intro

Have you heard of the ACT Initiative? On January 8th, 2020, the National Association of REALTORS® became an industry leader on fair housing by passing an action plan to advocate for fair housing law and policies. With the goal of protecting housing rights in the US, the ACT Initiative, or Fair Housing Action Plan, focuses on comprehensive training for agents as well as further education for the general public to ensure a level playing field for anyone looking to rent or buy a home. 

We’re kicking off a new series on Fair Housing and the Fair Housing Act, starting with this week’s installment which serves as a foundation to help consumers understand this law and what it means for them and the REALTORS® they work with. We will also be sharing news and updates to help REALTORS® better serve their clients, and work within these guidelines and laws to always provide the best service to all of the people they work with.

The History of the Fair Housing Act

Going all the way back to 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968. This act built upon former acts that addressed housing discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap, and family status. Prior to the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968, Congress had trouble getting the majority vote they needed to enact these initial policies. It was actually the assanassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that gave Johnson the push needed for a fast approval via Congress.

With riots taking place across the country due to Dr. King’s assassination, as well as the growing casualty list from Vietnam, the families of young African-American and Hispanic infantryman could not secure housing due to discrimination. These issues gained momentum for the passage of the Fair Housing Act, which then continued to snowball from there.

For the first anniversary of the passing of this act, HUD completed a Field Operations Handbook and created a formal complaint process. As support continued to grow, April became known as “Fair Housing Month” and schools began to sponsor poster and essay contests to focus on fair housing issues. Winners of these contests were oftentimes invited to Washington, DC for events with HUD. You can read more about the full history of the Fair Housing Act on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s website (also known as HUD).

Who Does the Fair Housing Act Protect? And From What?

The Fair Housing Act protects people from being discriminated against because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disabilities. This includes most housing, but in select circumstances, the Act does not include owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units, single-family houses sold or rented by the owner without the use of an agent, and housing operated by religious organizations and private clubs that limit occupancy to members.

In addition to the information above, HUD also outlines specific guidelines that outline what is prohibited in the sale and rental of housing and mortgage lending. There is additional information about harassment, advertising policies, and how to file a complaint.

Additional Fair Housing Resources

We hope the quick introduction to the Fair Housing Act above is helpful! If you’re interested in more information, we’d compiled a few additional resources for you to dive into. Be sure to ask your REALTOR® as well, who can be a wealth of information and well versed in these topics.

You can learn more about filing a complaint here, which you can do online or via email, phone, or snail mail. If you’re unsure about whether or not something can be considered discrimination under the Fair Housing Act, check out the following Examples of Housing Discrimination.

If you’re looking for more in depth timelines for when laws were enacted, you can find more information here. HUD’s site is informative and up-to-date on Fair Housing and related statutes, regulations, and executive orders. In addition to HUD, the team at UCBR will be publishing new blogs and updates

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