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1968 to Today

The 1968 Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination by housing providers and other entities participating in the housing sector, such as municipalities or lending institutions. Yet the fight against discriminatory housing practices did not stop with its passage. Instead, the Fair Housing Act ushered in a new era of housing laws that helped many improve their housing conditions as well as participate in the American dream of homeownership. Yet, despite all of the headway against discrimination in housing, there is still work to do.

Spurred by the Civil Rights Movement and standing on the shoulders of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, many civil rights and housing advocates sought to expand protections from various discriminatory practices, including discrimination based on; sex or marital status, age, religion, disability and other now protected classes. In 1974 Congress passed the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, which prohibits discriminating against any applicant on the basis of sex or marital status. In the same year, the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974 made it illegal to discriminate on the basis on sex in housing. In 1975 the Age Discrimination Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of age in programs or activities receiving federal financial and then in 1976 the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was expanded to include a prohibition of discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, age and source of income. The 1977 Community Reinvestment Act may be one of the most impactful pieces of legislation that directly addressed redlining practices in banking. The legislation aimed to reduce discriminatory credit practices in low and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods by encouraging certain ‘insured depository institutions’ (aka banks) to better meet the community’s credit needs. Then finally, in 1988 the Fair Housing Act was amended to add handicap and familial status (families with children) to the list of protected classes. Since 1988 there has been a series of additional legislation passed, yet the most substantive legislation was probably brought after the 2008 housing collapse. Known as the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010, this legislation was a significant overhaul of the nation’s consumer financing system and created numerous new mortgage lending protections. As you can see, over the last 30+ years, the legislative Fair Housing framework brought additional protections to a wide variety of groups; however this isn’t the end of the story.

Discrimination in housing still exists to this day. Currently, there are no federal laws that prohibit housing discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Many low-income families are constrained to what neighborhoods they can live in due to landlords’ denial of accepting Housing Choice Vouchers. Studies continue to revel discrimination against African American, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American renters and homeowners. According to data from the 2020 Home Mortgage Disclosure Act, denial rates are 80% higher for Black applicants than their White counterparts. While housing segregation has eased since the 1960s, we still find many minority populations reside in hyper-segregated areas. These areas often see low investment made into the community and suffer from the same ills of their predecessors. These are many of the realities our families, friends and neighbors face to this day.

We have come a long way since the days of housing discrimination being explicit policy, standardized, and socially acceptable, yet there is always work to be done! We tip our cap to all that have come before us and salute those still fighting for Fair Housing today.

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