2018 marks the 50-year anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The National Association of Realtors has been celebrating this milestone all year long with the slogan, “Fair Housing Makes U.S. Stronger.”

The history of the fight for fair housing in the United States is a convoluted one, beginning in 1866 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act shortly after the conclusion of the Civil War, which declared that all United States citizens of every color or race would have the same rights to own, occupy, and transfer real estate. Of course, this was not the end of the fight, but merely the beginning, as a series of laws and policies to promote segregation were put in place, and subsequently struck down, for the next 102 years.

The assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. was the catalyst to prod Congress to pass the Fair Housing Act after two years of failed attempts, in April of 1968, a little more than a week after King’s murder. The Act prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, or national origin. Gender, handicap, and family status were later added as protected groups.

Upon signing the law, President Lyndon Johnson said, “I do not exaggerate when I say that the proudest moments of my Presidency have been times such as this when I have signed into law the promises of a century… It proclaims that fair housing for all--all human beings who live in this country--is now a part of the American way of life.”

The National Association of Realtors, to which all of The All-Star Team Realtors belong, is a strong advocate of fair housing practices. The NAR Code of Ethics Article 10 states, “REALTORS shall not deny nor be party to any plan or agreement to deny equal professional services to any person for reasons of race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.”

 The NAR believes that “Where people live has a direct impact on the quality of their health, education, and access to economic opportunities”: From the NAR website, abbreviated, and emphasis added:

  • Where someone lives affects both their physical and mental well-being. Fair housing has a role in fostering healthy people and neighborhoods.
  • Housing factors that affect education include housing quality, residential stability, affordability, and neighborhood location.  Communities with high concentrations of poverty and a history of disinvestment may have less access to the type of housing that can bring about positive change to local schools. Fair housing has a role in creating and expanding educational opportunities.
  • Neighborhoods are becoming more segregated economically. The number of poor people living in neighborhoods with concentrated poverty doubled from 3 million in 2000 to 6 million in recent years. The stability provided by affordable housing can help households secure and maintain employment, increase their savings, and take steps to become self-sufficient. Fair housing has a role in creating neighborhoods that are economically diverse.               

Your Realtors at The All-Star Team are proud to be at the forefront of those who are ensuring fair housing here in the Pine Belt, which leads to economic growth that is good for not only the real estate industry but the U.S. and local economies as a whole. All of us benefit when fair practices are the norm!

To learn more about the Fair Housing Act, how to get involved in promoting fair housing in your community, or to lodge a complaint, visit Hud.gov/fairhousing.