Two Keys To A 2021 Refresh: Bringing Fair Housing Into The 21st Century

This April marks the 53rd anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (also known as the Fair Housing Act), which “prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, [and] sex.” Brave individuals fought for something we often take for granted, like the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose assassination was a catalyst for the final passage of the act, and Senator Walter Mondale, the future Democratic Party’s presidential nominee who championed fair housing for years.

But perhaps a name you haven’t heard of is Senator Edward Brooke. Ed Brooke, the first African American popularly elected to the U.S. Senate, co-authored the amendment that would prohibit housing discrimination. Senator Brooke worked across the political divide with leaders like Senator Mondale to enact the Fair Housing Act as law.

I’ve recently wondered how these heroes of American history would view the state of “fair housing” today. Studies show that while overt discrimination has dropped over the decades, less obvious forms of discrimination persist. People of color, for instance, are shown significantly fewer, and less appealing, rental properties in blind studies. According to the Urban Institute, Black and Hispanic renters are shown 11.4% and 12.5% fewer rental units, respectively, than white renters. Housing has ramifications in other related aspects of life such as health, education and job security. For example, communities of color often grapple with poverty and subpar schools.

I believe that there are two ideas that a new generation of real estate leaders can pioneer to help build on the fair housing platform that Senator Brooke and others began.

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The American Property Owners Alliance (The Alliance) is a nonpartisan, non-profit organization created to protect and support property owners and pave the way for future property owners. Our mission is to educate property owners about federal issues, laws and policies; to advocate for owners’ rights and interests; and to mobilize, when necessary, to secure those rights and interests.
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