My passion for all things housing related, and human rights in general, prompts me to reflect on the history of fair housing and issue this reminder of what fair housing is- it is more than a list of dos and don’ts, rights and penalties, and mandatory education for REALTORS®. As stewards of the right to own, use and transfer private property, fair housing protects our livelihood and business and depends on a free, open market that embraces equal opportunity.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FAIR HOUSING
On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which was meant as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The 1968 Act expanded on previous acts and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. Title VIII of the Act is also known as the Fair Housing Act (of 1968).
The enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968 came only after a long and difficult journey. However, when the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson utilized this national tragedy to urge for the bill’s speedy Congressional approval. Since the 1966 open housing marches in Chicago, Dr. King’s name had been closely associated with the fair housing legislation. President Johnson viewed the Act as a fitting memorial to the man’s life work, and wished to have the Act passed prior to Dr. King’s funeral in Atlanta.
With the cities rioting after Dr. King’s assassination, and destruction mounting in every part of the United States, the words of President Johnson and Congressional leaders rang the Bell of Reason for the House of Representatives, who subsequently passed the Fair Housing Act. Without debate, the Senate followed the House in its passage of the Act, which President Johnson then signed into law. The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. Additional protections apply to federally-assisted housing.
As a REALTOR® I recognize the significance of the landmark Fair Housing Act and am committed to upholding fair housing law as well as offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property. This means no discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, sexual orientation, gender identity, and national origin.