April marks “Fair Housing Month” as various groups commemorate the 55th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968.
For REALTORS®, the occasion “signifies a recommitment to advancing equitable opportunities and expanding homeownership.”
The National Association of REALTORS® has a dedicated website for Fair Housing Month, where members can access a Fair Housing Month Toolkit, book, film and video recommendations, podcasts and other resources.
Kenny Parcell, NAR’s 2023 president, issued a Fair Housing Challenge to elected and appointed leaders, asking them to complete a list of activities. The list includes online trainings, a “Bias Override” video workshop, and the At Home With Diversity one-day certification course.
Parcell said the three components of his Challenge, plus completion of C2EX, the Realtors Commitment to Excellence, will enable leading by example to strengthen NAR’s commitment to fair housing. “We are committed to expanding homeownership and property rights for all and to end housing discrimination one interaction at a time,” he stated.
Seattle King County REALTORS® continues to offer the mandatory education course, “Fair Housing for Real Estate Brokers and Managing Brokers,” as required by 2021 legislation that became effective June 1, 2022. The new course and in-person training is offered at SKCR’s classroom in Bellevue. Registration is open for classes on April 11 and May 4; check the education calendar for more dates later this year.
The curriculum for brokers, approved for six clock hours, covers the federal Fair Housing Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination as they pertain to real estate transactions. The course also satisfies Department of Licensing requirements for renewing broker licensees.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) plans to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the landmark civil rights law signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968 with several events and resources, starting with an opening ceremony on April 11.
Using the theme “Choices for all Voices: Building an Equitable Future,” the opening ceremony features HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, along with Demetria L. McCain, principal deputy assistant secretary, Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), Lee Porter, executive director at The Housing Council of Northern New Jersey, and the debate team from Texas Southern University. Registration is free for the ceremony, which starts at 10 am PDT.
On April 26, HUD will present another free event, “Building an Equitable Future: A Housing Policy Conversation with Gen Z College Students. It starts at 11 am PDT.
HUD also offers a “FHEO Table Talk Series,” developed in accordance with President Biden’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities through the Federal Government. To learn more and for links to previously recorded episodes visit HUD’s YouTube channel.
HUD’s Fair Housing Month website also contains information and links to the PAVE initiative, an interagency task force on Property Appraisal and Valuation Equity; FHEO Technical Assistance materials, with resources and trainings to educate housing consumers and providers on their fair housing rights and responsibilities; and FHEO Outreach tools.
As explained in a Fact Sheet from HUD, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, protects people from discrimination when they are renting or buying a home, getting a mortgage, seeking housing assistance, or engaging in other housing-related activities. The statute includes directives to Federal agencies to further the purposes of the Act.
When first enacted, the Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion and national origin. These protections were subsequently expanded to include discrimination based on sex, disability and familial status. In February 2021, HUD clarified that the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation.
HUD’s Fact Sheet notes several actions taken during the first year of the Biden-Harris Administration to strengthen fair housing protections and enforcement.
Last month, HUD awarded $54 million to 182 fair housing organizations in 42 states across the country under its “Fair Housing Initiatives Program” (FHIP). The grants were allocated to four categories:
- Private Enforcement Initiative.
- Education and Outreach Initiative.
- Education and Outreach Initiative Test Coordinator Training.
- Fair Housing Organizations Initiative.
Organizations in Washington state will receive $1,050,000. Of these grants, the Fair Housing Center of Washington will receive $425,000, with the Northwest Fair Housing Alliance receiving the balance.
Also last month, HUD announced it had submitted to the Federal Register for publication a Final Rule entitled “Restoring HUD’s Discriminatory Effects Standard.” The Final Rule goes into effect 30 days after it is published in the Federal Register.
HUD’s action last month rescinds the 2020 Fair Housing Act rule and restores a 2013 policy to eradicate discriminatory practices from the housing market. HUD believes the 2013 rule more effectively implements the Act’s broad remedial purpose.
In announcing its Final Rule submission, HUD noted that the 2020 Rule never went into effect due to a preliminary injunction staying its implementation.