Real Estate
4 Interesting Things You Should Know About the US Fair Housing Act
September 24, 2019

Real Estate professionals are usually familiar with US housing laws, legislations and regulations. But there are some interesting facts about those laws and acts that many mistakenly skip or ignore. Here are a few items that real estate professionals might miss but shouldn’t. I took the liberty to talk about specifically 4 today –

1.   The Federal Government Basically Invented Redlining

Many people associate the practice with mostly private lenders. However, they weren’t actually the ones who made this now-illegal practice popular back in the day. Actually, in the 30s, Roosevelt and his administration began to encourage the concept of homeownership by backing loans – but only to the right group.

At that time, the government drew red lines over the maps and basically indicated which neighborhoods aren’t covered under this arrangement.

2.   Walter Mondale’s Sponsorship of the American Fair Housing Act was a bit unintended

The producer of American Life, Nancy Updike said that President Lyndon Johnson basically “flattered” Minnesota’s young senator to take on the project. What happened was, everybody turned him down, so he had to convince him to take it over.

Mondale admitted to being somewhat uncomfortable since most of his colleagues were broadly supporting the Voting Rights Act but thought housing reform would make them look more like hypocrites. This was because segregation was at that time a huge issue in the cites at far north of the Mason – Dixon.

3.   Fair Housing Act actually had a legislative precursor

As you already know, the Civil Rights Act of 1866 was ensured to prohibit racial discrimination for house sales, rents, etc. Sadly, this act wasn’t much effective at that time. Mainly because it didn’t ensure any prominent penalty figures that will be forced to the violators of this act. It was basically a rule without major consequences. Similar to how a law becomes partially useless when the punishment isn’t established, this act soon became inadequate and a more specific legislation was a crying need to accomplish many civil rights goals mentioned in the act.

4.   The report/book that sold 2 million copies

President at that time, President Johnson arranged a National Advisory Commission on the Civil Disorders. It was then known as the Kerner Commission. The primary motive of this commission was to observe, analyze and look for the causes that led to many race riots at that time, specifically from 1965 to 1968.

What the commission found was groundbreaking. It was so huge a deal for its time that the report has sold well over 2 million copies. This was a remarkable and surprising feat for any government report. Around the same time, there were some members of congress with solid stands. They argued with others over the housing bill. They claimed that a housing bill will simply ignite the riots and nothing else. However, the commission argued that housing segregation was in fact at least partially, if not completely, responsible for the riots and violence over the US.


About author

Richard Nevis

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