April 11th marked the 50th anniversary of the signing into law of the Fair Housing Act (FHA.) The passage of this legislation was a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement, formally ending housing discrimination and calling for affirmatively furthering fair housing through the creation of diverse and integrated communities.
Write Johnson and Yentel, “Enacted just seven days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the Fair Housing Act outlawed racial discrimination in real estate and required that government ‘affirmatively further fair housing; by proactively integrating neighborhoods. This landmark achievement ushered in a much-needed federal effort to address the deeply entrenched residential segregation that, in large part, the federal government created and often sustains to this day.
The anniversary of this landmark legislation is an opportunity to reflect upon and re-energize efforts to ensure people with the lowest incomes have access to affordable homes in diverse, inclusive communities.
There remains much work to be done. “Nationally, for every 100 of the lowest income families, there are just 35 homes affordable and available to them, leaving millions on the cusp of eviction and possible homelessness. Today, 14 million people live in high poverty communities, and the numbers are rising, nearly doubling since 2000. The devastating effects are felt most profoundly within communities of color. One in every four poor Black families and one in every seven poor Latino families live in concentrated poverty; only one in every 13 white families do.”
And the Trump administration is hard at work trying to push back on the progress that the Obama administration made in the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act.
“The NAACP and the National Low Income Housing Coalition understand the intersection of housing and civil rights and are therefore working, as we have for decades, to realize King’s vision of racially diverse neighborhoods. More recently, we have joined forces with other leaders in the health, education, anti-poverty, anti-hunger, civil rights, and faith-based communities to launch the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign. Together, we are building a broad movement that generates widespread support for federal housing policies that ensure that all families, regardless of income, race, or ethnicity, have access to safe, decent, affordable homes in neighborhoods where everyone has equal opportunities to thrive.”