Racial Discrimination in Housing

Passed shortly after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968, the Federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on race. Prohibited acts include, but are not limited to, outright refusal to rent to a black family or apparently neutral policies that actually cause harm to a particular racial group. The spirit and letter of the Fair Housing Act is to promote the advancement of the equal housing opportunity for all races, and a celebration of the richness of diversity in residential life. Through education and outreach about as well as enforcement of the Fair Housing Act, HOPE Fair Housing Center works to realize Dr. King’s Dream of America as an “oasis of freedom and justice.”

The Fair Housing Act is intended to protect people of all races from the negative effects of housing discrimination.

In its interpretation of the Fair Housing Act, the United States Supreme Court (Gladstone, Realtors v. Village of Bellwood) recognized an enforceable right to the social and professional benefits of living in an integrated community. This principle empowers white communities to confront housing discrimination through direct advocacy or even to work through the judicial system when necessary to fight residential segregation.

Despite legal changes nearly fifty years ago, residential segregation still persists as a widespread problem. A Brookings Institute Report states that more than 50% of black or white residents in the majority of America’s metropolitan areas would have to move to another census tract in order to integrate the area. The report further explains that segregation is perpetuated by discrimination in zoning (“exclusionary land-use policies based on families’ economic circumstances”), transportation availability, steering by real estate agents, mortgage lending, and entrenched attitudes.

HOPE’s Work

HOPE in collaboration with the Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division defended the rights of an interracial couple denied housing by a landlord in the region because of race (read more). HOPE is also currently challenging selective enforcement of nuisance ordinances in Peoria, IL that lead to evictions of primarily black tenants (read more).

HOPE also offers free community workshops on how to combat housing discrimination and segregation in your own community. Together, we may strive for an America in which equal housing opportunity thrives.