50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

Posted April 15, 2018 in Real Estate Notebook

Rian Davis, Clark County WA real estate agent

Clark County Association of REALTORS®
The Voice of Clark County Real Estate.

In April of 1968, the United States experienced two landmark events in the cause for civil rights. While most are aware that April 4th commemorated the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, some may not be aware that a week later President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act, a set of legal standards and protections still in place today.

Prior to the advancement of the Fair Housing Act, it was legal nationwide to intentionally segregate and discriminate housing availability based on race, color, religion, and national origin. There are numerous stories from around the nation highlighting the struggles that minorities faced when looking to purchase a home. From securing financing to closing a sale, it wasn’t uncommon for minorities to be directed to certain neighborhoods and certain price points, and would often need to utilize deceptive tactics in order to purchase the right home for their family.

It has been a long and drawn out process to protect housing availability for protected classes. Major components of the Fair Housing Act were initially intended to be included in the 1964 Civil Rights Act, but were eliminated before final passage. Our country entered the 1970’s without laws prohibiting housing discrimination based on sex, and the 1980’s without laws addressing protections based on familial status or the disabled. There are still no standards that ensure fair housing based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or veteran status, meaning more work still needs to be done to ensure that our neighborhoods reflect the diversity that exists within our society.

The advantages to open access to housing cannot be overlooked. Fair Housing polices have impacts on health, the economy, and educational opportunities in addition to validating the values most Americans hold that our neighborhoods should not be divided based upon what individuals and families look like. Nationwide, the National Association of REALTORS® has taken the lead to ensure that REALTOR® members understand how to comply with the Fair Housing Act. Whether they are working with a buyer or a seller, REALTORS® know that there are Fair Housing implications related to marketing, multiple offer scenarios, and client interaction. It is important that REALTORS® know their role is vital to the effectiveness of the existing policies, and as an association we will continue to advocate for the inclusion of the LGBTQ Community and Veterans within the Fair Housing Act.

While there are still challenges, these nationwide laws require compliance for sellers and provide a path for buyers who are being mistreated in the home buying process based upon their race, religion, family status, or disability. In many respects, 50 years is a long period of time, but when compared to even the history of our nation, it is but a small window in which we have started to legally require equal access to the American Dream. So while it is important for us to commemorate a half century since the passage of this monumental piece of legislation, we must remind ourselves that there is still work to be done to ensure our communities represent all of us.

Rian Davis
Public Affairs Director
Clark County Association of REALTORS®