The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex. Intended as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the bill was the subject of a contentious debate in the Senate, but was passed quickly by the House of Representatives in the days after the assassination of civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. The Fair Housing Act stands as the final great legislative achievement of the civil rights era.
Struggle for Fair Housing
Despite Supreme Court decisions such as Shelley v. Kraemer (1948) and Jones v. Mayer Co. (1968), which outlawed the exclusion of African Americans or other minorities from certain sections of cities, race-based housing patterns were still in force by the late 1960s. Those who challenged them often met with resistance, hostility and even violence.
Meanwhile, while a growing number of African American and Hispanic members of the armed forces fought and died in the Vietnam War, on the home front their families had trouble renting or purchasing homes in certain residential areas because of their race or national origin.
READ MORE: How a New Deal Housing Program Enforced Segregation
In this climate, organizations such as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the G.I. Forum and the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing lobbied for new fair housing legislation to be passed.
The proposed civil rights legislation of 1968 expanded on and was intended as a follow-up to the historic Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill’s original goal was to extend federal protection to civil rights workers, but it was eventually expanded to address racial discrimination in housing.
Title VIII of the proposed Civil Rights Act was known as the Fair Housing Act, a term often used as a shorthand description for the entire bill. It prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin and sex.
In the U.S. Senate debate over the proposed legislation, Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts—the first African American ever to be elected to the Senate by popular vote—spoke personally of his return from World War II and his inability to provide a home of his choice for his new family because of his race.
In early April 1968, the bill passed the Senate, albeit by an exceedingly slim margin, thanks to the support of the Senate Republican leader, Everett Dirksen, which defeated a southern filibuster.
It then went to the House of Representatives, from which it was expected to emerge significantly weakened; the House had grown increasingly conservative as a result of urban unrest and the increasing strength and militancy of the Black Power movement.
On April 4—the day of the Senate vote—the civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee, where he had gone to aid striking sanitation workers. Amid a wave of emotion—including riots, burning and looting in more than 100 cities around the country—President Lyndon B. Johnson increased pressure on Congress to pass the new civil rights legislation.
Since the summer of 1966, when King had participated in marches in Chicago calling for open housing in that city, he had been associated with the fight for fair housing. Johnson argued that the bill would be a fitting testament to the man and his legacy, and he wanted it passed prior to King’s funeral in Atlanta.
After a strictly limited debate, the House passed the Fair Housing Act on April 10, and President Johnson signed it into law the following day.
Impact of the Fair Housing Act
Despite the historic nature of the Fair Housing Act, and its stature as the last major act of legislation of the civil rights movement, in practice housing remained segregated in many areas of the United States in the years that followed.
From 1950 to 1980, the total Black population in America’s urban centers increased from 6.1 million to 15.3 million. During this same time period, white Americans steadily moved out of the cities into the suburbs, taking many of the employment opportunities Black people needed into communities where they were not welcome to live.
This trend led to the growth in urban America of ghettoes, or inner city communities with high minority populations that were plagued by unemployment, crime and other social ills.
In 1988, Congress passed the Fair Housing Amendments Act, which expanded the law to prohibit discrimination in housing based on disability or on family status (pregnant women or the presence of children under 18).
These amendments brought the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act even more squarely under the control of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which sends complaints regarding housing discrimination to be investigated by its Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO).
READ MORE: Civil Rights Movement Timeline
Everything You Need to Know About the Fair Housing Act
How much do you know about the Fair Housing Act (FHA) and how it affects you as a landlord or property investor?
Well, if you don’t know much, you may be putting yourself at risk of being sued for discrimination. So, it is always good to learn about the FHA.
This post covers everything you need to know about the Fair Housing Act, including its:
Read more to find out what you need to know about the housing act.
The History of the Fair Housing Act: Lessons From the Past
The basic premise of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 is this: Everyone should have the right to choose where they want to live according to their means, without being subjected to discrimination based on their race, religion, gender or national origin. You shouldn&rsquot be denied the right to move into a neighborhood or get a loan simply because of something so arbitrary.
It sounds simple enough, but issues regarding race have never been very simple in America.
Why Was There Such a Struggle for Fair Housing?
Following the Civil War, so-called &ldquo Jim Crow &rdquo laws and &ldquo Black Codes &rdquo were designed to enforce divisions between African Americans and whites. Laws in some areas separated everything from movie theaters and restaurants to drinking fountains and cemeteries.
Even when Jim Crow-era laws gave way and segregation was officially deemed unconstitutional in the 1940s and 1950s, largely unspoken policies in many areas continued to create &ldquoseparate but unequal&rdquo housing that kept African Americans and others from integrating and moving into &ldquowhites-only&rdquo neighborhoods. Housing with white-only covenants were not only common but encouraged.
Even lauded government programs like the New Deal, which helped millions of Americans recover from the Great Depression, weren&rsquot immune from institutional racial divides. The Federal Home Loan Bank Board and the Home Owners Loan Corporation (HOLC) program instituted the practice known as &ldquo red-lining ,&rdquo or branding minority or racially mixed neighborhoods as &ldquopoor risks&rdquo for its low-interest loans, regardless of an individual&rsquos unique creditworthiness.
The combination created a Catch-22 for African Americans who wanted to own their own homes. They couldn&rsquot obtain housing loans in the inner city because the areas were red-lined, or designated as high-risk. They couldn&rsquot move into the suburbs because restrictive covenants kept them out. Homeownership &mdash and the path to stability and wealth it provided &mdash was largely out of reach for African Americans, which perpetuated the idea that largely black neighborhoods were inherently unstable and financially risky.
Essentially, even when the law no longer codified or protected it, racial segregation remained the de facto rule of the land. Your race affected where you could rent an apartment, buy a home, obtain a mortgage, go to school and just about everything else. Challenges to the status quo were met with anger, fear, resistance, threats and violence.
When Did Fair Housing Get Its Start?
The seeds of change were laid in the Cold War, but it took the Vietnam War for them to sprout.
America&rsquos racial divide had created two different Americas, one largely black, poor and urban and the other mostly white, affluent and suburban. This made it difficult to keep the country united against what the government now saw as a common enemy: communism and the U.S.S.R.
By the late 1950s and early 1960s, racial tensions in America were high, and riots broke out over the way that African Americans in this country were treated. Ultimately, President Johnson established the Kerner Commission to get to the heart of the racial divide, and the report issued in 1968 was blunt: Institutionalized segregation was tearing the nation into two pieces. One half of America was largely white and affluent, the other poor and black &mdash and institutionalized segregation was responsible.
Just weeks later, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who had long been a compelling voice against racism and segregation in all its forms, was assassinated. In the aftermath of Dr. King&rsquos death , more riots broke out, giving President Lyndon Johnson the political sway to push the Fair Housing Act &mdash which had long been stalled in Congress &mdash into law, making it a lasting tribute to King&rsquos legacy.
How Does the Fair Housing Act Work?
Homeownership is one of the most valuable opportunities you can have to build wealth &mdash but that opportunity is dependent on access and affordability. African Americans and other people of color have to have equal access to both housing and affordable financing in order to take part in the same American dream that homeownership affords whites.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), creates the policies that ensure equal housing under the Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act itself has been amended and expanded over time, broadening the scope of its protections, but its essential goal still remains the same as it always was: It&rsquos designed to both end housing discrimination and reverse segregation.
If you&rsquore looking for a new home , most of your interactions with others will be governed under the Fair Housing Act. Real estate agents, landlords, banks, sellers and property managers alike are all bound to obey Fair Housing Act regulations &mdash and many may be subject to local and state ordinances that broaden their legal responsibilities even further.
When you see the &ldquoEqual Housing Opportunity&rdquo logo (the outline of a house with an equal sign inside) on a company&rsquos website or door, it&rsquos a visible reminder to customers and clients that housing discrimination is unacceptable and an affirmation that the REALTOR®, bank or other business is committed to housing equality.
While recent events have highlighted the fact that America still struggles with racial divides and racial tensions, it&rsquos important to look back and remember that progress has been made. What took root back in the 1940s and blossomed in the 1960s is still growing and evolving today. The story is far from over.
What is AFFH?
First, some background: Spurred by the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which included what's commonly known as the Fair Housing Act.
The goal of the act was to stop housing discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion or other factors. It made it illegal to refuse someone a mortgage loan because they are Black or deny renting an apartment to a couple because of their sexual orientation, for example. It also required that local municipalities work to “affirmatively further fair housing” — but there was no real method to enforce the law.
"The federal government was realizing that it was just a paper obligation, that it wasn't really meaningful," Olatunde Johnson, a professor at Columbia Law School, told TMRW.
So in 2015, Obama's administration created an AFFH provision that provided a framework for local governments to take "meaningful action" against discrimination and segregation in housing — and prove that it was working — in order to receive federal dollars.
The rule didn’t last long before it was suspended, though. Even before Trump took office, Ben Carson, secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, had been critical of the AFFH provision. And in 2018, the new administration suspended the rule. (Some local municipalities, including New York City and Los Angeles, for example, chose to continue abiding by the plans they had created under the provision, although they were no longer required by federal law to do so.)
Now, Trump has taken a more definitive step and rescinded the rule entirely.
HUD called the AFFH rule "complicated, costly and ineffective," in a press release on its website last month.
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"Washington has no business dictating what is best to meet your local community's unique needs," Carson said, in part, in a statement in the release.
Civil rights and affordable housing groups have condemned the action, calling it “unjustifiable and shortsighted” and “election-year race-baiting,” and are calling for the regulation to be reinstated.
As the president pointed out in Wednesday's tweet, Joe Biden has said that he will implement the AFFH rule once again if he wins the presidential election in November.
As for Trump’s reference to the suburbs, Johnson said she believes that is an overstatement of what the provision was doing.
“I think this is more about politics than about the intricacies of affirmatively furthering fair housing,” she said. "I think it's a dramatic mischaracterization of what the AFFH had the capacity to do. . It also mischaracterizes the suburbs and how much they've changed in a lot of communities. There is more racial integration in the suburbs than there was (52) years ago when the Fair Housing Act was instated.
"You’re talking about fairness at the heart of this," she added. "Because we all contribute to the federal government through our tax dollars, and it can’t be used to benefit some communities and not others."
The History and Impact of the Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing act was passed on April 11, 1968, only days after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The legislation attempted to end growing segregation by making long standing discrimination practices by housing providers illegal. Upon signing the bill into law, President Johnson proclaimed, “At long last, fair housing for all is now a part of the American way of life. We have come some of the way—not near all of it.”
President Johnson signs the Fair Hosing Act. Senator Edward Brooke stands to the left of the President.
In its original form, the Fair Housing Act protected four different classes–race, color, religion, and country of origin—from discrimination when buying or renting a home or securing a mortgage. Sex was added as a protective class in 1974 and disability and familial status were included in 1988. The act applies to all aspects of the relationship between home providers and tenants. It also extends to other housing related activities such as advertising, zoning practices, and new construction design.
For decades, communities of color were the targets of unfair housing practices, creating highly segregated communities. These practices were instituted at every level of the housing spectrum. Redlining by lenders could make entire neighborhoods ineligible for mortgages or insurance, leaving them to rely on unscrupulous lenders. Housing developers could advertise their preference of race or skin color for new communities. Individuals could lie about housing availability or completely deny renters based on their race, color, or gender.
Senator William Brooke was the first African American popularly elected to the United States Senate. Working with Senator Mondale of Minnesota, he added the fair housing amendment as Title Vlll to the Civil Rights Act of 1968. The bill was a landmark for civil rights but the Senator cautioned, “Fair housing does not promise an end to the ghetto. It promises only to demonstrate that the ghetto is not an immutable institution in America.”
The assassination of Dr. King resulted in riots, arson, and looting in over 125 cities across the country. The time was right for change and President Johnson, along with Senator Brooke and Mondale, used the urgency of the situation to push the Fair Housing Act through a reluctant congress that had previously stonewalled its passing.
The tragic death of Dr. King acted as a catalyst to push the Fair Housing Act through a reluctant congress
Housing Discrimination in Oregon
Up until 1926, Oregon forbid people of color from living within its borders. The Portland Realty Board’s code of ethics specifically forbade selling property to people of color until 1952. Redlining ran rampant and by 1960, 80% of the African American population lived in just a small area of Northeast Portland. In the early 1960’s, three projects removed what progress had been made by the community. The building of Memorial Coliseum bulldozed 476 homes largely owned by people of color, the building of I-5 cost hundreds more, and the Emanuel Hospital was built on top of an African American business district, demolishing another 300 homes. Twenty years later, a wave of dishonest lending by Dominion Capital in the 1980’s would add another burden to the already victimized and struggling community. African Americans continue to feel the effects of being disproportionately impacted by the subprime mortgage crisis a decade ago.
What’s ahead for Portland
In an attempt to correct past actions that marginalized and displaced longtime residents, the city of Portland developed the Affordable Housing Preference Policy. It aims to be a tool to help give housing priority to displaced households with generational ties to North and Northeast Portland. Many of Habitat for Humanity’s new home construction projects will fall under the preference policy umbrella, helping to bring affordable homes to the historically marginalized communities. Homebuyers will help build and then purchase their home with an affordable mortgage.
Despite the historic nature of the Fair Housing Act, opportunities for affordable housing are not equal across racial lines. There are zero neighborhoods affordable to rent or buy for the average black, Latino, and Native American families in Portland. Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East is working hard to help bridge the minority homeownership gap and provide opportunities for more families to help build strength, stability, and self-reliance.
A Brief History of the Fair Housing Act and its Applications Today
Most of you probably didn’t notice the Supreme Court decision handed down in June 2015 regarding fair housing law. Some of you may not even know what fair housing is. But it matters for our discussion this week about building walkable neighborhoods with mixed-use, multifamily buildings instead of filling our nation with ever more suburban developments, funded by the federal government. The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that “makes it unlawful to refuse to sell, rent to, or negotiate with someone because of their race, gender, religion, etc.” The Fair Housing Act passed a week after Martin Luther King’s assassination. It was a landmark civil rights act that attempted to push back on decades of housing discrimination, and it still has bearing today.
The Regional Plan Association's report, "The Unintended Consequences of Housing Finances," mentions fair housing and the precedent it sets for expanding housing options supported by federal mortgage loans. It specifically brings attention to a recent Supreme Court ruling on Fair Housing, Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs v. Inclusive Communities Project. The RPA report explains that HUD rules issued after this case “highlight the need to both break the cycle of disinvestment in racially-concentrated areas of poverty and to expand the amount of affordable housing in areas with good schools and other opportunities. Reforming financing rules to make it easier to finance mixed-use development will remove an impediment to investment that can help achieve both of these goals.” I’m going to break down the history of fair housing, its implications today and what it means for current federal mortgage policies.
What is fair housing?
Here is the basic explanation, from the HUD website:
Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Fair Housing Act) prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Title VIII was amended in 1988 (effective March 12, 1989) by the Fair Housing Amendments Act, which:
expanded the coverage of the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on disability or on familial status (presence of child under age of 18, and pregnant women) and
established new administrative enforcement mechanisms with HUD attorneys bringing actions before administrative law judges on behalf of victims of housing discrimination.
As I wrote a couple weeks ago in my essay about Flint, this is why we have government: to regulate issues that affect the wellbeing of Americans, which we don’t trust private companies – in this case landlords, realtors and developers -- to self-regulate.
Fair Housing is, of course, still a problem. Just because a law exists doesn’t mean that it is consistently enforced. In an ideal world, the Fair Housing Act would mean that people of color, women, people with disabilities, and people of different religions, would all be given a fair chance to buy or rent housing the same as any white male. In reality, Fair Housing claims are still filed regularly and racist slumlords still prevent people from accessing the housing they want. The Supreme Court case last June also made clear that there are other ways in which housing practices can be discriminatory, some of which, the federal government has, itself, been responsible for.
Public housing in New York City. Photo by Ken Lund.
What does the recent Supreme Court case mean for fair housing?
As the RPA report explains: “The June 25, 2015 decision by the Supreme Court in Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) v. Inclusive Communities Project upheld the government’s obligation to affirmatively further fair housing when policies result in disparate impacts.” This case was essentially about segregation. The TDHCA had been supporting the creation of affordable housing via the popular Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program, which gives developers a tax break if they rent a certain percentage of their units at “affordable” rates.
The problem, the Inclusive Communities Project argued, was that the affordable housing funded through LIHTC was only being built in poor minority neighborhoods. This meant that poor minorities only had access to housing in their existing, segregated neighborhoods. They were effectively excluded from wealthy white neighborhoods where they might have had the chance to attend better schools, enjoy more accessible amenities and live on safer streets, if only affordable housing existed in those neighborhoods.
In the majority opinion for the court case, Justice Kennedy wrote, “In striving to achieve our ‘historic commitment to creating an integrated society,’ we must remain wary of policies that reduce homeowners to nothing more than their race. But since the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 and against the backdrop of disparate-impact liability in nearly every jurisdiction, many cities have become more diverse.”
Essentially, the Supreme Court case clarifies that fair housing laws extend beyond simply refusal of an individual landlord to rent to a minority. Fair Housing also means that housing policies and funding cannot negatively impact one demographic over another.
What does Fair Housing have to do with loan reform?
In the case of mixed-used, multifamily buildings, HUD has, with its mortgage funding, chosen to primarily support the creation of single-family dwellings, which are far more accessible to white middle class people and far less accessible to minorities in poverty. In the last quarter of 2015, black homeownership rates were 70% lower than white home ownership rates (US Dept. of Commerce). HUD's mortgage policies have prioritized single-family housing options -- often the purview of wealthier white families -- for decades, while discouraging the creation of other more affordable mixed-use and multifamily buildings. As demand for walkable neighborhoods has increased, the cost of living in those neighborhoods has also gone up, with supply lagging behind due, in part, to the federal government's mortgage policies which mainly prioritize single family living over walkable, mixed-used, multifamily living. Low income people, so many of whom belong to a class protected by Fair Housing law, could greatly benefit from living in those walkable neighborhoods, but cannot currently afford to. Thus, federal mortgage priorities play a role in disproportionately disenfranchising low income communities, and run counter to the Supreme Court's recent fair housing ruling.
The angle of the whole RPA report is that HUD’s own policies are contradictory and outdated. HUD has made it clear that it knows the value of walkable neighborhoods and wants to encourage their proliferation. HUD cares about the issues of concentrated poverty and affordable housing, and the Supreme Court's 2015 Fair Housing decision makes it clear that the federal government is in favor of desegregation and increased access for minorities and other underserved communities through housing. The RPA report recommends that HUD adjust its loan policies in order to align with these stated priorities and values, and allow greater access to more diverse affordable housing options.
This gets personal for me because I worked at HUD, still have many friends there and have worked for other anti-homelessness agencies that are served by HUD funding. I believe HUD is an important department of the federal government, doing a lot of good in this country. But it needs to shift its loan priorities to allow for the creation of more mixed-use multifamily buildings in walkable neighborhoods. This shift will help enable HUD to achieve its goals of desegregation and increasing access to affordable housing.
Division of Human Rights
The New York State Human Rights Law prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of several &ldquoprotected characteristics.&rdquo It is against the law for someone to discriminate against you because of one of these protected characteristics:
- Arrest Record
- Gender Identity or Expression
- Family Status
- Lawful Source of Income
- Marital Status
- Military Status
- National Origin
- Sexual Orientation
The Human Rights Law does not give preference to any one particular race, creed, color, national origin, sex, age, lawful source of income, disability, marital status, family status, sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. If someone denies you housing based on one of these characteristics, whichever characteristic that happens to be, it is against the law.
Who Must Follow The Law?
Anyone who sells, rents, or leases housing must follow the Human Rights Law. This includes: owners, tenants, subtenants, managing agents, real estate brokers, real estate agents, and agents and employees of the above persons.
What Is Prohibited?
The Human Rights Law makes it illegal to discriminate in the sale, rental, or leasing of housing because of a protected characteristic. Specifically, the law makes it illegal to do the following because of a protected characteristic:
- Refuse to sell, rent, or lease housing.
- Discriminate in the terms, conditions, or privileges in the sale, rental, or leasing of housing.
- Discriminate in providing facilities or services in connection with the sale, rental, or leasing of housing.
- Print or circulate a statement, advertisement, or publication expressing a limitation, specification, or discrimination in the sale, rental, or leasing of housing.
- Use an application for housing that expresses any limitation, specification, or discrimination in the sale, rental, or leasing of housing.
- Make any record or inquiry in connection with the prospective purchase, rental, or lease of a housing accommodation that expresses any limitation, specification, or discrimination.
- Discriminate against a person with a visual impairment because of their use of a guide dog, or a person with a hearing impairment because of their use of a hearing dog.
- Discriminate against a person with a disability because of their use of a service dog.
- Discriminate against a person with a disability because of their use of an emotional support animal.
The Human Rights Law also prohibits participating in discrimination or retaliation against someone for helping to enforce the law.
The Human Rights Law adds additional obligations on real estate brokers, real estate salespersons, and their employees. Specifically, it is against the law for them to:
- Refuse to negotiate for the sale, rental, or leasing of housing.
- Represent that housing is not available for sale, rental, or lease when it is available.
In addition to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of disability, the Human Rights Law requires persons covered by the law to undertake e-orts to accommodate the needs of persons with disabilities so they can live in housing.
What Housing Is Covered?
The Human Rights Law applies to nearly all housing accommodations. Exceptions are:
- Rental units in two-family homes occupied by the owner.
- Rentals in rooming houses occupied by the owner or member of the owner&rsquos family.
It is important to remember that although the Human Rights Law does not apply to these housing accommodations, federal or local Fair Housing laws may apply.
What About Lending?
The law also prohibits discrimination in connection with lending, including real estate lending. It is unlawful to discriminate in connection with lending on the basis of the same characteristics that are protected in connection with the sale or rental of housing.
- You are seeking to sell your co-op unit. The co-op board informs you that it will not approve a sale to African-American buyers. Is this against the law?
Yes. It is unlawful to aid, abet, incite, compel or coerce someone to violate the Human Rights Law. Additionally, should the co-op board actually vote to deny a sale because a buyer is African-American, the co-op would be liable directly for discrimination, as would each member of the board who voted to deny.
- Ms. Booth, a single woman with two children, is looking for an apartment. She sees an advertisement describing a two-bedroom apartment that meets her family&rsquos needs. Ms. Booth calls the listed real estate agent, who tells her that the apartment is available and invites her to come see it. After viewing the apartment, she tells the agent that it is perfect for her family. The agent then tells Ms. Booth that the landlord does not wish to rent to families with children. Did the agent violate the law?
Yes, it is unlawful to refuse to negotiate for the sale, rental, or leasing of housing to families with children.
- You rent an apartment in an apartment building and you use a wheelchair to enter and exit your apartment. You cannot get up the steps at the front of the building without the assistance of others. Do you have any options?
Yes. Your landlord may be required to provide a ramp or other reasonable means to permit you to access the building.
Filing a Complaint
If you believe that you have been denied housing due to unlawful discrimination, you can file a complaint with the New York State Division of Human Rights. A complaint must be filed with the Division within one year of the alleged discriminatory act. To file a complaint:
Wikipedia contributors (2018a). Community Reinvestment Act. Wikipedia contributors (2018b). Redlining.
Authority, F. H., 1936. Underwriting manual: Underwriting and Valuation Procedure Under Title II of the National Housing Act.
Bonastia, C. (2015). Low-Hanging Fruit: The Impoverished History of Housing and School Desegregation, 30: 549-570.
Congress, 2018. Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, Sec. 104. U.S. Congress, Washington, DC.
Encyclopedia.com (2018). Urban Redevelopment.
Frey, W. H. (2015). Census shows modest declines in black-white segregation, Brookings Institute. Retrieved from Brookings website https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2015/12/08/census-shows-modest-declines-in-black-white-segregation
Fry, R. and Taylor, P. (2012). The rise of residential segregation by income, Washington, DC: Pew Research Center: 26.
The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston (2018). Historical Shift from Explicit to Implicit Policies Affecting Housing Segregation in Eastern Massachusetts.
Hernandez, J. (2009). Redlining revisited: mortgage lending patterns in Sacramento 1930, International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 33: 291-313.
Iceland, J. and Weinberg, D. H., 2002. Racial and ethnic residential segregation in the United States 1980-2000. Bureau of Census, Washington, DC.
Fair Housing Act - HISTORY
1866 - The Civil Rights Act of 1866 grants full citizenship rights to all males born in the U.S. regardless of race and guarantees all U.S. citizens the rights to inherit, purchase, lease, sell, hold, or convey real and personal property.
1962 - President John F. Kennedy issues Executive Order No.11063 prohibiting discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin in federally owned, operated, or assisted housing.
1964 - Congress enacts the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (P.L. 88-352). Title VI of the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, or national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance. This includes any housing receiving federal funding.
1966-1967 - Congress regularly considers legislation to prohibit discrimination in private housing transactions but fails to pass fair housing legislation.
February 6, 1968 - Senators Walter Mondale (MN) and Edward Brooke (MA), then the only African-American member of the Senate, submit the Fair Housing Act of 1968 (S. 1358) for inclusion as an amendment within the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (H.R. 2516) a larger civil rights bill to protect civil rights workers.
February 29, 1968 - The National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders releases its landmark report, commonly known as the Kerner Commission Report. Sen. Brooke and the other members of the 11-person Commission conclude residential segregation of African Americans along with other economic and social inequalities, contributed to the urban disorders, or riots, of 1967.
April 4, 1968 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is assassinated. Riots erupt in cities around the country including Washington, D.C. President Lyndon B. Johnson calls for passage of fair housing legislation as a way to honor King's memory.
April 11, 1968 - President Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (P.L. 90-284) into law. Title VIII of the act, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin in the sale, rental, or financing of housing.
May 1968 - The Truth in Lending Act, Title I of the Consumer Credit Protection Act, (P.L. 90-321) becomes law. The act requires lenders, including lenders in the mortgage industry, to disclose terms and cost of loans so that consumers can make informed choices about credit.
1973 - Congress enacts Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (P.L. 93-112) to prohibit discrimination based on disability in any program receiving federal financial assistance.
1974 - Through the Equal Credit Opportunity Act (P.L. 93-495), Congress prohibits creditors from discriminating against any applicant on the basis of sex or marital status. The Act was amended in 1976 (P.L. 94-239) to include the prohibition of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age, source of income or because the applicant has in good faith exercised any right under the Consumer Credit Protection Act.
1974 - Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 (P.L. 93-383) becomes law. Through Section 109 of Title I of the Act, Congress makes it illegal to discriminate on the basis on sex in housing. Other sections of the Act expand the definition of discriminatory housing practices to include interference and intimidation. Additionally, the act establishes the requirement that communities receiving Community Block Grant affirmatively further fair housing.
1975 - The Home Mortgage Disclosure Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-200), cosponsored by Sen. Brooke, mandates financial institutions providing federally related mortgage loans annually reveal , by census tracts or ZIP code, how much they are loaning to specific geographical areas. This act serves as way to discourage redlining, or geographical discrimination, in the mortgage lending industry.
1975 - Congress prohibits discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving federal financial assistance through passage of the Age Discrimination Act of 1975 (P.L. 94-135).
1977 - The Community Reinvestment Act (P.L. 95-128), Title VII of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1977, becomes law. Designed to reduce redlining, the act encourages lending institutions to meet the needs of borrowers in the local communities in which they are charted including borrowers from low- and moderate-income neighborhoods. Delegate Walter Fauntroy (DC) and Representative Parren Mitchell (MD) cosponsor the bill.
1977-1988 - Congress regularly considers amendments to strengthen enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. CBC members play an important role in the legislative effort by sponsoring many of these bills and advocating for victims of housing discrimination.
1979 - Representatives Parren Mitchell (MD), William Gray III (PA), and Delegate Walter Fauntroy (DC) convene the first meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus Housing Braintrust. CBC members and policy experts review proposed amendments to strengthen Fair Housing Act enforcement at the inaugural meeting.
1987 - The Fair Housing Initiatives Program authorized through passage of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1987 (P.L. 100-242) and later made permanent in the Housing and Community Development Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-550). The program strengthened HUD's ability to enforce fair housing law by authorizing the Department to provide funding to state and local government agencies as well as non-profit groups which work to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices through testing, education, or other programs.
September 13, 1988 - President Ronald Reagan signs the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (P.L. 100-430) into law. The act adds handicap and familial status (families with children) to the list of protected classes under Title VIII of the Fair Housing Act. It also strengthens enforcement of fair housing law by making it easier for victims of discrimination to sue and stiffening penalties for those who discriminate. A majority of CBC members cosponsor the bill.
1994 - President William Jefferson Clinton issues Executive Order No. 12892 which requires federal agencies to "affirmatively further fair housing" in their housing programs, makes the Secretary of HUD responsible for coordinating that effort, and establishes the President's Fair Housing Council to assess the success of federal programs in promoting integrated housing.
Fair Housing Act - HISTORY
The need for federal fair housing legislation evolved out of a long history of discriminatory housing practices in the United States. For much of the past century, the nation existed as a racially segregated society in which black and white citizens occupied separate and vastly unequal neighborhoods. Personal prejudice, business practices, and government policies at all levels promoted and maintained residential divisions. African-American members of Congress have long understood the serious consequences of neighborhood segregation and fought to pass legislation ensuring the nation's residents have the right to the housing of their choice.
In the early decades of the 20th century, thousands of African Americans moved north. They left behind homes in the rural South to seek jobs in rapidly industrializing Northern cities like Chicago, New York, Detroit, and Cleveland. As the Great Migration continued, local governments, white landlords, and real estate agents responded to growing numbers of black residents by adopting strategies to create racially segregated neighborhoods. Through zoning laws, racially restrictive covenants, intimidation, and violence, whites maintained well-defined boundaries between white and black residential communities. The federal government soon joined in the effort by introducing redlining in its loan programs. Deeming African-American or mixed-race neighborhoods of high mortgage risk, the federal government refused to back mortgages in these neighborhoods. Private lending institutions followed suit. This further restricted housing choice for African Americans.
Changes in the years following World War II strengthened boundaries of residential segregation. The expansion of the federal highway system and movement of manufacturing jobs to facilities outside cities shifted economic focus away from urban centers. In addition, proliferation of low-interest loans available to white borrowers lured white families to the suburbs. This shift in residential color lines transformed the nation's cities into inner cores of predominantly African-American residents ringed by white suburbs. Institutionalized discrimination in lending and real estate blocked African Americans from joining the exodus from city centers or from obtaining funds to improve their current homes. It also limited African Americans' access to suburban schools, jobs, and other resources. Urban decay followed. State and local governments, supported by federal housing and development programs, attempted to improve inner city neighborhoods tearing down and rebuilding substandard housing. These efforts were far from successful, however. Much of the housing torn down was never replaced leaving many residents, the majority of them African American, with fewer housing options. Additionally, many of the public housing projects built to accommodate those displaced were located in poor, racially segregated neighborhoods. Instead of moving to areas of new opportunity, many found they were simply moved to another, similar neighborhood.
The push for fair housing, or open housing as it was known in the 1960s, arose in response to these changes in residential landscape. Bolstered by early civil rights victories like the Brown v. Board of Education ruling in 1954, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, civil rights groups continued their work for equality by protesting the lack of economic resources, jobs, adequate housing, education, and public services in Northern cities.
In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference joined local civil rights leaders in Chicago for a major nonviolent protest campaign against institutionalized housing discrimination. King's association with the Chicago Open Housing Movement helped shift national attention to civil rights struggles in the North. It also raised the issue of housing discrimination to national attention. At the same time, riots in urban centers across the country imbued the issue with a sense of urgency.
In response to these growing pressures, President Lyndon B. Johnson asked Congress to consider fair housing legislation in both 1966 and 1967. Debate on the Hill was heated during these years. Supporters argued that housing discrimination violated the country's basic ideal of justice and was the root of a myriad of other inequalities. Those opposed to fair housing laws contended such legislation infringed on private property rights. For many Congress members previously willing to permit desegregation of the workplace and public accommodations, the prospect of integrating neighborhoods seemed a step too far. Supporters of fair housing legislation, including the seven African Americans in Congress at the time, failed to secure a strong enough majority to pass a fair housing bill.
Senators Walter Mondale (MN) and Edward W. Brooke (MA), then the lone African American in the Senate, tackled the issue again in the early winter of 1968. The two Senators coauthored a fair housing amendment and introduced it as part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, a larger bill to provide protections for civil rights workers. Failure looked imminent for this attempt as well, until two events motivated Congressional action. The first was the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorder's release of its landmark report, commonly called the Kerner Commission Report, in February of 1968. In the report, Sen. Brooke and the other members of the 11-person Commission identified residential segregation as one of the central inequalities which prompted the widespread urban disorders, or riots, which shocked the country in 1967. The report became a best-seller and was often cited in Congressional fair housing debates.
The other event which motivated Congress to pass the Fair Housing Act was a national tragedy. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated as he stood on a hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee. King's death shocked the nation. A new wave of riots gripped the nation's cities, including Washington, DC. As smoke from the burning neighborhoods drifted over the nation's capital, President Johnson urged Congress to respond by passing the Fair Housing Act as a tribute to the slain leader. Days later, Congress obliged. President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1968, including Title VIII or the Fair Housing Act, into law on April 11, 1968 as Sen. Brooke and other fair housing supporters looked on.
The Fair Housing Act as passed in 1968 prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of housing on the basis of race, color, religion, or national origin. It also directed the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to oversee enforcement of the Act. Passing the Fair Housing Act was a great civil rights achievement, but required several compromises that restricted and weakened the bill. Over time, it became clear the law's limited enforcement provisions lacked the strength to combat deeply-entrenched discrimination in the housing market. Residential segregation rates remained high and discriminatory practices persisted.
Since 1968, African-American members of Congress have played a leading role in the legislative effort to strengthen the Fair Housing Act by expanding protections and enforcement provisions. The Congressional Black Caucus regularly included amending the Fair Housing Act on its list of legislative priorities in the 1970s and 1980s. The CBC supported a successful amendment to the massive Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 to add sex to the list of classes protected under federal fair housing law. In April 1979, Representatives Parren Mitchell (MD) and William Gray III (PA), and Delegate Walter Fauntroy (DC) founded the Congressional Black Caucus Housing Braintrust and convened its first meeting in Washington, DC. Braintrust participants identified fair housing as an important legislative priority and argued in support of a vigorous campaign to amend the Act throughout the 1980s. During this time, CBC members also participated in committee hearings on housing discrimination, pressured the White House to take action, and spoke out on the issue in both the press and from the floor of Congress. Despite the efforts of the CBC and other fair housing supporters, it took until 1988 for Congress to pass significant amendments to fair housing law. In addition to strengthening the Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) enforcement powers, the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 added people with physical or mental disabilities and families with children to the list of groups protected from housing discrimination.
Throughout the 1990s, CBC members continued efforts to expand fair housing protections and took on new challenges to housing equality. They recognized that though minorities and other groups now were less likely to face overt discrimination, housing bias continued in new and more subtle forms such as predatory lending and reverse redlining. Caucus members led efforts to combat these practices through securing funding for fair housing enforcement programs and calling for investigations into discriminatory lending practices. Today, the Congressional Black Caucus continues working to ensure all Americans equal access to housing they can afford in the location of their choice.