2018 Essay winner: The Effectiveness of the Fair Housing Act of 1968
The Fair housing Act of 1968 was a piece of legislation that was prominent to the conclusion of discrimination in the matter of homeownership and renting. Specifically, the act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, or national origin when concerning the sale, rental and financing of housing. The act was first introduced to Congress in 1966. Over the next two years, the bill was considered but never gained the needed support to be ratified. It was not until April 10th, 1968 that the Fair Housing Act was passed by the House of Representatives. Although the act formally prohibited discrimination, it did little other than desegregate housing establishments.
The time era of the passing of the Fair Housing Act was a time of great strife for minorities in America. Race-based housing ar-
rangements were still in effect in the late 1960’s, by change was crucial. As Martin Luther King Jr. fought for civil rights for all people, he also fought for fair housing. Although King passed away on April 4th, just days before the ratification of the act, President Lydon B. Johnson stated that the act would be a testament to King and his achievements. Although the ratification of the act was a major step towards racial equality, segregated housing remained an issues in the United States for years to follow.
Fro 1950 to 1980, the total African American population residing in America’s urban centers rose from 6.1 million to 15.3 million. This shows an improvement of equality in homeownership and renting since the 1968 Fair Housing Act. In contrast to this, white Americans were steadily moving out of cities into suburbs, taking many employment opportunities from minorities. This, in turn, led to the establishment of inner city communities that were plagued with social ills such as unemployment and crime. So. although the Fair Housing Act was an important step towards racial equality, it can be seen that it did not eliminate discrimination in minority housing and renting.
The main intention of the Fair Housing Act was to protect potential buyers and renters of houses from seller or landlord discrimination. The US Department of Housing and Urban Development is the federal department with the authority to enforce the Fair Housing Act. Also, individuals who believe that they have been a victim of housing discrimination are able to file a complaint to the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO). Although the act has been strengthened since its ratification, enforcement still remains an issue.
Fifty years after the ratification of the Fair Housing Act, a lot of change can be seen in the homeownership field. The barriers to integrated housing were formally lifted with the passing of this act, a major milestone for African Americans. In contrast to these positive changes, problems exist today. This includes limited housing choices for minorities, and neighborhoods that lack the infrastructure and environmental safety of other neighborhoods. When African Americans enter real estate offices, they face the risk of receiving less information and favorable treatment than white clients. This evidence shows that inequality between races within renting and home ownership is still a pressing issue in today’s society.
Although the main focus of the Fair Housing Act was originally race, it also pertains to sex, religion, age and national origin. The Fair Housing Amendments Act, which was signed on September 13, 1988, also extended the law to prohibiting discrimination against people with disabilities. This has a personal connection to my life, as my grandfather has been wheelchair-bound for a major portion of his life. Currently, my grandparents are looking to sell their house and rent a small apartment in the area. If the amendment to this act had not been created, they might have faced more hardships while searching for a place to rent than they have encountered. However, since the act now includes people with disabilities, my grandfather cannot be discriminated against due to his immobility or age.
As far as the next fifty years go for the Fair Housing Act, I believe that it will continue to produce steps towards ending discrimination in renting and homeownership. An amazing amount of progress has been made since its ratification, such as the desegregation of housing units and the increase of 9.2 million African Americans residing in urban centers. It is probable that the improvement will continue within the next fifth years. This could lead to communities free of violence, crime and poverty. Although discrimination still proves to be a major issue in today’s society, the advancement already made seems to serve as a reason to be optimistic for the future of housing.
In conclusion, the Fair Housing Act of 1968 is an extremely important item of legislature that led American one step closer to ending discrimination in housing and rental matters. With the act was successful, minorities still struggle when renting and buying housing. Not only do racial or religious minorities face discrimination, new family dynamics must be considered in the next fifty years, so that all may have the opportunity to choose where they live. History promises to fulfill that goal and within the next fifty years more communities will have greater diversity and acceptance.
Dormaim Green, 2019 Mid-Shore Board of Realtors president; Sarah Ferkler, 2018 first place winner of MSBR’s Property Rights Essay Contest; and Daphne Cawley, 2018 Mid-Shore Board of Realtors president, pose with Ferkler’s ceremonial check.