April is Fair Housing Month. But for Realtors®, every month should be Fair Housing Month.
This year marks the 55th anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act, which was signed by President Lyndon Johnson, and was meant as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The bill was signed days after the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., as what many deemed a memorial to his hard work.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), familial status and disability. That means it’s illegal to discriminate by: refusing to rent or sell housing, making housing unavailable, setting different terms, imposing different sales prices or rental charges, evicting a tenant or a tenant’s guest, harassing a person, publishing any advertisement that indicates any preference, limitation or discrimination and many more ways.
Over the past several years, the National Association of Realtors®, the Pennsylvania Association of Realtors® and our local associations have renewed their dedication to the Fair Housing Act and educating our members about fair housing and how discrimination hurts minority communities. That’s because our nation and the National Association of Realtors® didn’t always support fair housing rights as part of our history. However today, we are doing better. I’m proud to say that our Realtor® organizations are at the forefront of supporting fair housing measures.
Throughout April, I’d urge you to visit NAR’s Fairhaven simulation. This online training program helps members identify, prevent and address discriminatory practices in real estate. The training was eye-opening for me as it takes you through scenarios as both an agent and a homebuyer and it comes with feedback to help you learn more about fair housing.
Please consider earning your At Home With Diversity certification offered by NAR. This course will help you work successfully with our increasingly changing real estate market.
PAR offers you a number of fair housing resources and book recommendations to further educate yourself about fair housing issues.
You can also join me for PAR’s monthly webinar on Tuesday, April 18 at 10 a.m. for “Is Fair Housing Your Blind Spot?” with Dr. Lee Davenport, who writes a monthly column and race and real estate for Inman News. You can register online.
And lastly, if you suspect your client’s rights have been violated, urge them to submit a complaint to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and/or the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.
I appreciate you taking the time to read this. Let’s lead by example and do our part to leave this place better than we found it.