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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Fair Housing for All

Posted By on April 21, 2021, 4:00 AM

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April is the month when we Realtor celebrate the passage of the Fair Housing Act by Congress in 1968 by sponsoring events and offering education focusing on housing discrimination and segregation, with a recommitment to expanding equal access to housing for all.

Looking back, it's easy to see that housing segregation in big and large cities didn't happen randomly. Residential pockets of racial and ethnic makeup are located in certain parts of town because laws were passed to either place people there or keep them there. The diversity of most high-end neighborhoods around our country is often nonexistent, with most expensive homes being owned by whites.

Over centuries, landowners have helped to create and enforce zoning rules that put a virtual wall up to keep out housing diversity—such as apartment buildings, duplexes/triplexes or townhomes. And as housing prices rise and affordable housing vanishes, we hear pushback from the NIMBY landowners who say they support the concept of affordable housing but only as long as it's not in their backyard.

During the Trump years, HUD Secretary Ben Carson didn't seem to initiate or fight for sweeping changes in national housing policies. Under his watch, affordable housing shortages worsened, HUD's budget was cut and there was no increase in Section 8 housing vouchers for families in desperate need of rental housing.

Obama's presidency created programs to racially diversify and create more affordable housing in the suburbs, but those programs were axed by Trump, as were the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations, which were cut by Trump to appease white suburban women before the 2020 presidential election. Carson also pushed to make sure that government-funded homeless shelters refused to allow transgender people in housing based on gender identities. Luckily, Biden is committed to wiping out all laws against trans people in housing.

My National Association of Realtors has a new and encouraging Fair Housing Action Plan to help ensure our 1.3 million Realtors are doing as much as we can to protect housing rights in America by educating not just ourselves but the public in the topic. By increasing partnerships with governments and private housing providers/developers, we hope to promote best practices that prevent discrimination and foster diverse, inclusive communities in this country.

If you feel, for any reason, you've been discriminated against trying to rent or buy a home due to your race, color, sex, national origin or religion, please be aware that you can file a complaint with HUD. If they determine discrimination might have occurred, the case would be sent to an administrative hearing or federal district court. If a judge finds discrimination did occur, the guilty party could be ordered to compensate you for damages, make housing available and pay a penalty and/or attorney's fees.

And while you're pondering fair housing, check out The Banker, a great movie out with Samuel L. Jackson about two black entrepreneurs in the 1960s who hatched an ingenious business plan to fight for housing integration with equal access to the American Dream.

About The Author

Babs Delay

Babs Delay

Bio:
De Lay is realtor/broker/owner of Urban Utah Homes and Estates. She is a former member of the Utah Transit Authority's Board of Trustees.

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