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Celebrating 50 years of the Fair Housing Act: A Timeline of Fair Housing in the United States

April 6, 2018 in KCRAR

Not only is April Fair
Housing Month, but 2018 is the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing
Act, which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin,
religion, sex, familial status or disability.

Fair housing is more than a
list of dos and don’ts, rights and penalties, and mandatory continuing education.
As stewards of the right to own, use and transfer private property, fair
housing protects the livelihoods and businesses of REALTORS® and depends on a
free, open market that embraces equal opportunity.

nation and NAR did not always support fair housing rights. NAR’s
understanding of fair housing rights changed over time and today NAR leads
efforts to expand those rights.

1789 – Private Property Rights
The Fifth Amendment to the
Constitution of the United States protects property rights. Slaves were
considered property and had no property rights. Women were not included
among those with property rights and military conquest, legislation and court
decisions often denied these rights to native Americans of African, Asian, and
Latin American decent.

1866 – The Civil Rights act of 1866
Following the Civil War, the
Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States declares that all
persons born in the United States are citizens and the Civil Rights Act of 1866
provides that all citizens have the same rights to real property as do white
citizens. Court cases, immigration laws and racially defined zoning denied
those rights.

1917 – Racial Zoning Outlawed
The Supreme Court of the
United States voids zoning based on race. Property owners, real estate
interests and local governments then employ deed restrictions based on race and
religion to support segregated housing and deny housing based on race, national
origin and religion. In 1938 the Women’s Council of REALTORS® was formed and in
1947 African American real estate brokers, many of whom were not allowed to be
REALTORS®, formed the National Association of Real Estate Brokers with a fair
housing mission.

1948 – Restrictive Deed Covenants Not Enforceable
The Supreme Court of the
United States ends court enforcement of deed restrictions based on race,
religion and national origin. A growing fair housing movement passes the
first fair housing laws in New York City and Colorado in the 1950’s. As
the Fair Housing movement grows, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, joins the
Chicago Freedom Movement in 1966 to call for fair housing across the country.

1968 – Fair Housing Act
The Kerner Commission,
studying the civil disorders and causes of riots in US Cities in 1967, wrote
that “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate
and unequal.” On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. President
Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law on April 11, 1968. The Act
states “It is the policy of the United States to provide, within constitutional
limitations, for fair housing throughout the United States.” The 1968
Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion and
national origin. In 1974, the Fair Housing Act was amended to prohibit
discrimination based on sex.

1975 – Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement
NAR adopts an agreement with
HUD to promote fair housing, educate members regarding their rights and
obligations under the Fair Housing Act, develop and recommend fair housing
procedures for members and participate in community based fair housing
activities. In 1985, NAR supported government funding of testing of fair
housing complaints and in 1988, supported expanding the Fair Housing Act to
prohibit discrimination based on familial status and handicap or
disability. In 2016 NAR resolved to seek changes in the Fair Housing Act
to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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