April is Fair Housing Month, in honor of the passage of the Fair Housing Act on April 11th, 1968.
The Fair Housing Act, the final legislative achievement of the Civil Rights Era, prohibits discrimination concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, religion, sex or national origin, and in 1988 was amended to include disability and family status.
Before this legislation was passed, in Minnesota and throughout the country, the real estate industry prevented all kinds of people from access to quality housing, and wealth accumulation via homeownership, the Fair Housing Act was the first step to remedying this injustice.
Since its passage in 1968 the Fair Housing Act has contributed to the country’s continued integration and has increased protected classes access to quality housing and homeownership. Although there has been significant improvement in these areas, there are still issues of discrimination in housing.
In 2018 there was an 8% uptick from the previous year in housing discrimination complaints nationally to 31,202, the highest the National Fair Housing Alliance has recorded since it started publishing this data in 1995. Private fair housing groups are processing the vast majority of these complaints, 75%, more than all government agencies combined. Of the 31,202 complaints filed in 2018 51% were about disability, and 17% were about race, and 83% of all complaints were regarding rental properties. These numbers do not include the untold number of incidents of housing discrimination that go unreported. There is still much progress to be made.
As an organization SPAAR has made an effort to promote Fair Housing and contribute to organizations that further the goals of the Fair Housing Act. Among those are contributions to the Mapping Prejudice project, a sponsorship of the Rondo Commemorative Plaza and grants for the acquisition and development of the Center for Diverse Expression in the Rondo community. SPAAR is also putting on a variety of Fair Housing Month activities for our REALTOR® members, including encouraging them to take the Fair Housing Pledge. Additionally, we have encouraged local governments in our territory to sign our Fair Housing Month Proclamation, and allow staff or members speak to the importance of Fair Housing at City Council and Board of Commissioners meetings. Thus far we have been able to work with St. Paul, Ramsey County, Burnsville, Oak Park Heights, and Fridley on this effort.
The Fair Housing Act is a vital piece of legislation from the Civil Rights Era and it continues to protect many Americans from discrimination in housing. SPAAR is committed to the goals outlined in the Fair Housing Act and we hope you are too!
Check out SPAAR’s webpage dedicated to Fair Housing Month Here!