In the late 1960s, America was in a state of turmoil. The Civil Rights Movement was at full blast, and individuals were fighting for equality across all walks of life. This included the right to fair housing. On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law. This act banned discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It was a significant win for the Civil Rights Movement, and it altered the face of American living forever. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of the Fair Housing Act and its effects on American renters.
Civil Rights and Fair Housing
The Fair Housing Act was a direct response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the movement for equality that was happening across the country. That act prohibited discrimination in public places but did not tackle discrimination in housing. As a result, numerous black Americans were forced to live in deplorable housing conditions. The Kerner Commission, studying the civil disorders and causes of riots in US Cities in 1967, wrote, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”
Acknowledging that the federal government had a responsibility to address housing inequality, Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts and Representative John Conyers of Michigan sponsored an act that would explicitly outlaw housing discrimination. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The Fair Housing Act was passed by Congress on April 11, 1968, and was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on the same day.
The Fair Housing Act tackled housing inequality by making it illegal to discriminate against renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also created the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), which aims to remove housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities. FHEO is also responsible for enforcing the act.
The Impact of Fair Housing
The effects of the Fair Housing Act were instant and extensive. It opened up previously segregated neighborhoods to minorities. It also made it simpler for families of all income levels to seek safe and affordable housing. The act has been recognized for reducing poverty and improving educational outcomes for children residing in low-income households.
The Fair Housing Act has been amended several times since it was initially passed. The latest amendment, passed in 1988, expanded the definition of “family” to include unmarried couples and people with disabilities. It also enhanced the enforcement provisions of the act.
The Fair Housing Act and You
The Fair Housing Act is one of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history. It has contributed to the development of a more equal and just society by guaranteeing everyone has access to safe and affordable housing. If you’re a renter in the United States, it’s imperative to understand your rights under the Fair Housing Act. Some of the rights the Fair Housing Act protects are:
- The right to choose a housing option without prejudice
- The right to reside in a safe and pleasant housing environment
- The right to fair treatment throughout the housing search process
- The right to not be denied housing based on your income
If you believe you’ve been discriminated against, you can submit a complaint with HUD under the FHEO. You can also consult a fair housing organization in your area for assistance.
To best protect your rights, it’s also vital to work with landlords and property managers that understand and follow fair housing laws. Real Property Management Trustworthy has a long history of commitment to fair housing. Browse our listings online to find high-quality rental homes in Bear Creek.
We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.