April is Fair Housing Month! After years of noting this important month as a civil rights- no, a human rights measure signed into law in 1968- some things are changing regarding enforcement. . As it reads today, the Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children. According to a New York Times article last week by Glenn Thrush, ” The Trump administration is attempting to scale back federal efforts to enforce fair housing laws, freezing enforcement actions against local governments and businesses, including Facebook, while sidelining officials who have aggressively pursued civil rights cases.” According to the article, every administration will make some changes, and Ben Carson, HUD Secretary decided to remove the words ”inclusive” and “free from discrimination” from HUD’s mission statement. Different agency officials have reported that several inquiries about fair housing violations have been put on hold by the agency. Secretary Carson denies that he is abandoning the agency’s mission, but “recalibrating” the process rather than making a philosophical shift. Either way, it is worth noting that any changes to the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act could be interpreted as a change in the law. Today- I write this article, including the above concerns because the Fair Housing Act is one part of the law of this land that must change and grow as our country changes and grows. HOWEVER- any changes, no matter how small or seeming inconsequential must be watched and monitored as it could lead to the unraveling of a very important part of our nation’s fabric. As we celebrate 50 years since the passing of the Fair Housing Act, I hope we can celebrate the progress made in those 50 years as far as opening doors for new housing opportunities for so many people who had often been denied access to quality housing and home financing.
The National Fair Housing Alliance, in their 2017 Fair Housing Trends report, stated:
There were 28,181 reported complaints of housing discrimination in 2016. Of these, private fair housing organizations were responsible for addressing 70 percent, the lion’s share of all housing discrimination complaints nationwide.
55 percent of these complaints involved discrimination on the basis of disability, followed by 19.6 percent based on racial discrimination and 8.5 percent based on discrimination against families with kids.
91.5 percent of all acts of housing discrimination reported in 2016 occurred during rental transactions. Based on these statistics alone- we must watch, hold ourselves accountable and our society to standards which will always hold the right to good, safe, clean and affordable housing as a basic human right.
I have had many conversations with people in the communities in our area for years about the quality of housing; public housing, private housing, rental properties in and around Nelson County. We stand among the best, well maintained, in the state! It is in our awareness and pride that we can claim to be the Most Beautiful Small Town in America.
Peggy R. Smith is the Association Executive for the Old KY Home Board of REALTORS®. The Old Kentucky Home Board of REALTORS® owns and operates the MLS for the Nelson, Washington,
Marion, Larue and Hart Counties in Kentucky and has over 50 years serving our local area. Member of Kentucky Association of REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS®.