This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act of 1968. President Lyndon B Johnson signed the legislation into law on April 11, 1968 — on the heels of the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. This landmark legislation prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability. Not included is equal opportunity in private housing on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, although about half the states have enacted legislation banning this discrimination (unfortunately not Florida).
The Fair Housing Act was designed in part to end the racially discriminatory practices which resulted in segregated neighborhoods. The discrimination was perpetrated by both individual communities as well as government agencies. For example, the Federal Housing Administration refused to issue loans on properties located in black communities, a process called “redlining” — where they drew red lines around neighborhoods in which they would not issue loans. There were also policies prohibiting black veterans from purchasing homes with the GI Bill. And although the government was directed to “affirmatively further” fair housing, actions by a succession of both Democrat and Republican presidents failed to fight segregation and create integrated neighborhoods.
So here we are fifty years later with much work to be done. I was hoping to just write a short piece celebrating the 50th anniversary of this law, but then I started reading articles like this, and this, and this. It is important for those of us in the real estate profession to know the rules, and to have awareness of fair housing initiatives in our area. Many times clients are surprised when we cannot answer their questions about the demographics or the crime rate of a neighborhood, but following the law will hopefully help us come a bit closer to the dream of everyone being free from housing discrimination.
Gloria Singer is the Broker of Boca Expert Realty, a boutique Boca Raton real estate company with a focus on professional service and an unparalleled customer experience. Our select agents are amongst the top performing professionals in the field. Visit www.BocaExpert.com for information on Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Highland Beach real estate and to connect with an expert in the local market.