UPDATED: 12:30 p.m. ET, April 10, 2023
This month marks the 55th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. To commemorate the historic law, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development kicked off Fair Housing Month 2023, this year’s theme, Choices for All Voices: Building an Equitable Future.
Throughout the month, HUD and its partners will host activities that enhance public awareness of fair housing rights, highlight fair housing enforcement efforts, and emphasize the importance of creating diverse and inclusive communities.
“This April, we commemorate the Fair Housing Act, the landmark civil rights law that guarantees the right to housing of your choice, free from discrimination,” said Secretary Marcia L. Fudge. “Though it has been 55 years since the Fair Housing Act was passed, we are still working tirelessly to fight housing discrimination. Today, we recommit to our mission to provide equality and opportunity to every person who calls America home, regardless of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex (including sexual orientation or gender identity), disability, or familial status.”
Secretary Fudge will kick off Fair Housing Month with an Opening Ceremony on April 11th at 1:00 P.M. The event is intended to showcase HUD’s efforts to advance and protect fair housing rights to ensure that all people have the right to obtain the housing of their choice, free from discrimination.
“On the 55th anniversary of the signing of the Fair Housing Act, we reflect on the efforts HUD has made to deliver on the promise of the Act,” said Demetria L. McCain, Principal Deputy Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. “This month and every month, HUD is taking meaningful action to end housing discrimination and segregation while helping to ensure true housing choice. We are committed to eliminating discrimination and disparities in housing in every American community.”
The fight for civil rights isn’t just about voting, it also encompasses equality in everyday living, including the right not to be discriminated against when trying to purchase or sell a home. In April 1968 the Fair Housing Act (FHA) was passed. Now every year during the month we celebrate the Fair Housing Act and the rights it afforded Blacks trying to build a life in America. But why April? Yes, the Act was passed in April, but that’s not the only reason we celebrate it in the fourth month of every year.
President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the FHA into law just a week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
What is the Fair Housing Act?
The Fair Housing Act is directly tied to Dr. King’s legacy. His commitment to equal opportunity in every community is embodied by the Fair Housing Act. As we remember King, we remember the reasons he fought tirelessly for equal rights. One of the reasons we need fair housing is because it helps build strong, lasting communities. Due to a long history of discriminatory lending practices called ‘redlining,’ Black homeownership and wealth have always been a struggle. Although the Fair Housing Act ended the official practice of redlining, sadly, some of its discriminatory ways have still seeped into the processes of homeownership.
In August 2021, NewsOne reported Black American homeowners are being forced to whitewash their homes just so they can receive a fair price on their appraisals, in what is known as “appraisal discrimination.”
Housing and Urban Development have put together a task force called the interagency Property Appraisal Valuation Equity Task Force or PAVE for short. The group, which will be led by Secretary Marcia Fudge of HUD, former ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, and 20-year HUD staffer Melody Taylor, will try to combat the decades-old issue of “appraisal discrimination.” But protections should already fall under the Fair Housing Act.
Who Does The Fair Housing Act Protect?
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
It also makes it illegal to harass persons because of race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, familial status, or national origin. Among other things, this forbids sexual harassment.
What is Illegal Discrimination Under The Fair Housing Act?
- Refuse to rent or sell housing
- Refuse to negotiate for housing
- Otherwise make housing unavailable
- Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
- Provide a person different housing services or facilities
- Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale or rental
- Make, print or publish any notice, statement or advertisement with respect to the sale or rental of a dwelling that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination
- Impose different sales prices or rental charges for the sale or rental of a dwelling
- Use different qualification criteria or applications, or sale or rental standards or procedures, such as income standards, application requirements, application fees, credit analyses, sale or rental approval procedures or other requirements
- Evict a tenant or a tenant’s guest
- Harass a person
- Fail or delay performance of maintenance or repairs
- Limit privileges, services or facilities of a dwelling
- Discourage the purchase or rental of a dwelling
- Assign a person to a particular building or neighborhood or section of a building or neighborhood
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