Fair Housing Act Celebrates 50 Years but Work Still Remains
by Tim Hur, CRS, CLHMS, CIPS, ABR, GREEN, SRS
What does “fair housing” mean to you?
If you are reading this as a consumer, you may be wondering: what does fair housing mean and what are some examples of violations?
Are you a single parent that has been asked for a higher security deposit because you have children? Have you only been shown a particular neighborhood because of your race? While these are blatant, obvious examples of discriminations, things like this unfortunately happen today, 50 years after the Fair Housing Act was passed.
However, there are federal laws that may protect you from being discriminated against in the aspects of housing under one of the federally recognized classes: race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familiar status, and national origin.
If you are a licensed agent or broker, you may have read a recent article I wrote for the Georgia Association of REALTORS® where I asked if you would join me in being a “fair housing” leader. Overwhelmingly, many of you expressed to me that you have already joined that fight and that REALTORS® go beyond the call of duty by exceeding what is called for in the Fair Housing Acts. This elevated set of standards is embedded in the REALTOR® Code of Ethics – that REALTORS® do not discriminate based upon race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status, national origin AND sexual orientation AND gender identity.
History of Fair Housing
For a bit of background, groups like the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) and Women’s Council of REALTORS® (WCR) were instrumental in getting the Fair Housing Act passed on April 11, 1968, seven days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. When President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act, he stated that “the proudest moments of [his] Presidency have been times such as this when [he had] signed into law the promises of a century… that fair housing for all … is now a part of the American way of life.”
I wish we lived in a world where the Fair Housing Act was not needed, but we know that challenges still exist – sometimes intentionally, sometimes inadvertently. I was recently shown a legal description that included racial deed restrictions –the property could not be sold to someone of a particular religion – and everyone was flabbergasted. The title company insured over it, but the legal description still included the deed restriction. Crazy.
Challenges Ahead for Fair Housing
We still have a mountain to climb when it comes to fair and equal housing rights. We have much to do as a nation and as a state. But 2018 is a special year – 50 years will have passed since being on the right side of the law. We stand committed in knowing that this great nation is committed to fair housing, especially REALTORS®.
Case in point: While we may be familiar with the protected classes under the Fair Housing Act, REALTORS® realize that housing discrimination is a growing concern with people’s sexual orientation and gender identity – which is why we included them as additional classes. We have too many LGBTQ identified youth and millennials living on the street because of discrimination in housing. We have too many same-sex couples being denied places to live. With regard to housing, the LGTBQ population is only protected by local or state ordinances/laws in half of the United States.
REALTORS® are on the forefront of making sure Fair Housing is part of the fabric of what makes this great nation great. REALTORS® see and are addressing housing issues and problems with regard to service animals, housing vouchers, disability, veteran or spousal benefits, sexual orientation and more – serious issues that the public, too, is facing today.
“Too Busy to Hate”
I challenge everyone to become champions of fair housing. We must meet this challenge head on – especially in Georgia and Metro Atlanta where we are all “Too Busy to Hate.”
So, join me, our partners, our allies, and 37,000 Georgia REALTORS® in a yearlong commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Tell others your story and struggles so that it is not forgotten - I am constantly humbled by my peers and mentors when witnessing their dedication to this cause. I would not be here today without knowing all of the struggles they went through. It is so important to tell everyone your story. But know and be especially proud that Georgia REALTORS will continue to be leaders in fair housing. Remember that 50 years later in our great state, Georgians are still “Too Busy to Hate.”
Tim Hur is the current 2018 National Association of REALTORS’ Chair for Diversity, Region 3 Director for the Georgia Association of REALTORS®, and is on the national task force to promote and commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Fair Housing in the United States. With multiple designations through the REALTOR® network, Hur is Managing Broker for Point Honors and Associates, REALTORS®, a boutique real estate firm in Metro Atlanta. He is a national speaker and has been actively selling for 12 years since graduating from Georgia Institute of Technology.