April 11 marks the 50th anniversary of the signing of the federal Fair Housing Act. Why is the commemoration a top priority for the National Association of REALTORS®?
The right to own property, and to own a home, is the foundation of our business.
NAR has taken an active role in promoting, and educating REALTORS® about, equal housing opportunity for 50 years.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.
NAR incorporates all of those requirements, as well as equal opportunity on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, into our REALTORS® Code of Ethics, because it makes our association, our industry, and our country stronger.
NAR’s commemoration of the Fair Housing Act is vital because it highlights how far we’ve come in promoting equal housing opportunity—both as a society and as an association—and, more importantly, that our work is on-going.
When Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1968, many in organized real estate had a far different view of fair housing. The new era of openness and equality in the sale or rental of housing clashed with hardwired beliefs at that time; and many believed that fair housing law posed a threat to individual property rights.
President Lyndon Johnson, as he signed the Fair Housing Act on April 11, 1968, famously declared that the right to fair housing “is now a part of the American way of life.”
That right also became every REALTOR®’s responsibility. For all the progress made to raise awareness and end discriminatory practices, as specified in the law and the REALTORS® Code of Ethics, the challenges for the industry and society persist. Fifty years later, REALTORS® commitment to upholding the principles of fair housing remains a top priority.
Despite all of the strides that have been made in Fair Housing, we must learn from the past. Housing is not a special interest; it is a human right. NAR and the RI Association of REALTORS® is committed to safeguarding this right.
Our vigilance must continue so that future generations may also enjoy the benefits of Fair Housing.
Some areas of concern include:
1. How to avoid Steering claims in the age of big data;
2. How emotional support animals like therapy dogs are finding their way into fair housing law;
3. Illegal discrimination based on familial status.
While we may not be able to predict the adversity of our society, or the challenges of the market place, in the future, we must always work together as a nation, and as REALTOR® professionals, to protect the right of Fair Housing for ALL who live here in the greatest country on earth.