Fair housing is more than a list of dos and don’ts, rights and penalties, and mandatory continuing education. As stewards of the right to own, use and transfer private property, fair housing protects our livelihood and business as REALTORS® and depends on a free, open market that embraces equal opportunity.
REALTORS® recognize the significance of the Fair Housing Act and reconfirm their commitment to upholding fair housing law as well as their commitment to offering equal professional service to all in their search for real property.
NAR’s Fair Housing Action Plan, abbreviated ‘ACT,’ emphasizes (A)ccountability, (C)ulture Change, and (T)raining in order to ensure America’s 1.4 million REALTORS® are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America. On November 18, 2020, NAR launched Fairhaven.realtor — an innovative online simulation training, where agents work against the clock to sell homes in the fictional town of Fairhaven, while confronting discrimination in the homebuying process. During the training, learners also walk in the shoes of a homebuyer facing discrimination. The training provides customized feedback that learners can apply to daily business interactions.
Also, print a copy of the REALTOR® Fair Housing Declaration and post it in your office and/or association.
Fair Housing Topics
NAR Library & Archives has already done the research for you. References (formerly Field Guides) offer links to articles, eBooks, websites, statistics, and more to provide a comprehensive overview of perspectives. EBSCO articles (E) are available only to NAR members and require the member's nar.realtor login.
Fair Housing Resources for REALTORS®
Real Estate Brokerage Essentials: The Fair Housing Chapter (National Association of REALTORS®)
That's Who We R: Fair Housing Assets (National Association of REALTORS®)
Expanding Housing Opportunities Course (National Association of REALTORS®)
2020 Fair Housing Month Toolkit (National Association of REALTORS® and REALTOR® Party, March 2020)
Guidance for Fair Housing Compliance During the COVID-19 Pandemic (National Association of REALTORS®, 2020)
How to Talk About Fair Housing and Diverse Homeownership (National Association of REALTORS®, May 2017)Fair Housing, Equal Opportunity for All Brochure (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 2011)
Fair Housing Marketing Outreach Tools [Available in several languages] (U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development)
REALTOR® Fair Housing Declaration (National Association of REALTORS®)
What Everyone Should Know About Equal Opportunity in Housing Item 166-799 (REALTOR® Store)
NAR "At Home With Diversity" Course (National Association of REALTORS®)
Fair Housing Grants (REALTOR® Party)
Separated by Design: Why Affordable Housing Is Built in Areas with High Crime, Few Jobs and Struggling Schools (ProPublica, Nov. 25, 2019)
Connecticut’s approach to affordable housing creates pockets of poverty, where low-income people are locked out of opportunities that are just around the corner. Eighty percent of affordable housing units are sited in communities with high crime, low homeownership rates, little access to working-class jobs and lackluster school performance. For decades, local zoning boards have blocked construction of privately developed duplexes and apartments in higher-income areas, keeping housing segregation firmly in place.
When the Dream of Owning a Home Became a Nightmare (The New York Times, Oct. 19, 2019)
The Housing and Urban Development Act of 1968 created policies that let low-income black renters, long excluded from conventional mortgages, become homeowners. But unscrupulous banks, appraisers, and real estate agents abused the program, buying decrepit or condemned housed on the cheap, and quickly flipping them. Bankers signed off on bloated appraisals because Washington absorbed the risk. An unprecedented number of black renters became homeowners, but they were paying more for homes that were older and shoddier than the ones their white peers were buying in the suburbs. The nation’s first program to encourage black homeownership ended in the 1980s with tens of thousands of foreclosures.
Living Apart: How the Government Betrayed a Landmark Civil Rights Law (ProPublica, Jun. 25, 2015)
The authors of the 1968 Fair Housing Act wanted to reverse decades of government-fostered segregation, requiring federal officials to do everything possible to “affirmatively further” fair housing. This odd turn of phrase meant that the law didn’t just ban discrimination; it charged the government to act to bring about “integrated and balanced living patterns,” according to Senator Walter Mondale, a chief sponsor. But, for decades, presidents from both parties declined to enforce a provision of the law that stirred vehement opposition.
Part of ProPublica’s Segregation Now series.
Staggering Loss of Black Wealth Due to Subprime Scandal Continues Unabated (The American Prospect, Oct. 13, 2014)
Prince George’s County, Maryland, is home to several of the wealthiest black neighborhoods in America. The home of lawyers, teachers, and government employees, no other majority-black county in the U.S. is comparable in terms of education and income. But during the housing boom of the 2000s, banks targeted African Americans for subprime loans at a stunning rate, including many borrowers who would have qualified for a prime loan. Black homeowners in Prince George’s County watched home values decline precipitously, and faced foreclosure at a higher rate than whites with similar incomes and lifestyles.
The Case for Reparations (The Atlantic, Jun. 2014)
America’s moral and economic debt to African Americans from slavery through the present runs through housing. Practices like redlining, predatory home purchase contract schemes, real estate blockbusting, the denial of benefits to black G.I.s returning from WWII, and the targeting of black homebuyers with subprime mortgages denied African Americans the opportunity to build wealth through homeownership. Many of these practices illegally and immorally drained away wealth that African Americans had already earned.
The Banker (Feature Length Film)
In the 1960s, two entrepreneurs (Anthony Mackie and Samuel L. Jackson) hatch an ingenious business plan to fight for housing integration—and equal access to the American Dream. Nicholas Hoult and Nia Long co-star in this drama inspired by true events.
Watch the entire movie on Apple TV+. Free for 7 days, then $4.99 a month.
The Disturbing History of the Suburbs | Adam Ruins Everything (6 minutes)
Redlining: the racist housing policy from the Jim Crow era that still affects us today.
Why Cities Are Still So Segregated | Let’s Talk | NPR (6 minutes)
In 1968, Congress passed the Fair Housing Act that made it illegal to discriminate in housing. Gene Demby of NPR’s Code Switch explains why neighborhoods are still so segregated today.
America Divided: A House Divided (44 minutes)
Norman Lear explores the housing divide in New York City, where he is confronted by one of the nation’s starkest images of inequality: a record number of homeless people living in the shadows of luxury skyscrapers filled with apartments purposely being kept empty. The creator of “All in the Family,” “Good Times” and “The Jeffersons” speaks with tenants, realtors, homeless people, housing activists, landlords and city officials — investigating the Big Apple’s affordability crisis, hedge fund speculation on residential housing, and a legacy of racist discrimination that still persists today.
A Matter of Place (27 minutes)
Connecting past struggles for fair housing to contemporary incidents of housing bias based on race, sexual orientation, disability, and source of income, the film presents three stories of people who faced housing discrimination in present-day New York City. They poignantly describe the injuries inflicted on them during these incidents, as well as their resolve to fight for justice.
Seven Days Documentary | 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act (9 minutes)
When a single gunshot rings out at a Memphis motel, civil unrest breaks out across the country. President Johnson, long frustrated by his inability to improve housing conditions for people of color, scrambles to use the crisis to push a fair housing bill through a reluctant Congress. With few days to spare and many arms to twist, he and two young Senators – Edward Brooke and Walter Mondale – attempt to pass the bill before the slain civil rights leader is laid to rest. The Fair Housing Act was ultimately passed just seven days after Dr. Martin Luther King’s untimely death. Produced by the National Fair Housing Alliance in collaboration with Nationwide, this short film reminds us of the backdrop that led to the passage of this landmark civil rights law and its deep significance, and compels us all to complete the unfinished work of the Act.
Item 166-150D: NAR Fair Housing Video (REALTOR® Store)
“Building Stuyvesant Town: A Mid-Century Controversy” | The Bowery Boys: New York City History (Omny Studio, Nov. 14, 2019)
The residential complexes Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, built in the late 1940s, incorporating thousands of apartments within a manicured "campus" on the east side, seemed to provide the perfect solution for New York City's 20th century housing woes. It would be a home for returning World War II veterans and a new mode of living for young families. As long as you were white.
“Location! Location! Location!” | NPR Codeswitch (National Public Radio, Apr. 11, 2018)
Ira Glass talks to a 15 year old girl who was kicked out of school after administrators discovered her mother using her grandfather’s address to send her to a school just a few miles away. The difference in education was astounding. A reporter talks to a group of New York City residents about their frustrating attempts to rent an apartment. With hidden microphones, we hear landlords tell the apartment hunters that there’s nothing available. But that’s not necessarily true. And investigative reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses how HUD failed to uphold the Fair Housing Act’s command to change the course of residential segregation in America.
“The Red Line: Racial Disparities in Lending” (Reveal | The Center of Investigative Reporting, Feb. 17, 2018)
Reporters analyzed 31 million government mortgage records and determined that people of color were more likely than whites to be denied a conventional home loan in 61 metro areas, including Atlanta, Detroit and Washington. That’s after controlling for a variety of factors, including applicants’ income, loan amount and neighborhood.
No city better exemplifies the trend than Philadelphia, where so-called up-and-coming neighborhoods abound – and where African American applicants were nearly three times as likely as whites to be denied a home loan. That’s where reporters Aaron Glantz and Emmanuel Martinez tell the story of two loan applicants – one black, one white – whose experiences raise larger questions about who gets to buy a home, and who doesn’t, in America.
“House Rules” | This American Life (National Public Radio, Nov. 22, 2013)
Where you live is important. It can dictate quality of schools and hospitals, as well as things like cancer rates, unemployment, or whether the city repairs roads in your neighborhood. On this week's show, stories about destiny by address.
A Snapshot of Race and Home Buying in America (National Association of REALTORS®, 2021)
Bias Override: Overcoming Barriers to Fair Housing (National Association of REALTORS® and Perception Institute, 2020)
COVID-19, Illegal Housing Discrimination, and Protections for People with Disabilities and Those Who Care for Them under the Fair Housing Act (National Fair Housing Alliance, Apr. 9, 2020)
COVID-19 and Fair Housing: Frequently Asked Questions (National Multifamily Housing Council, Apr. 6, 2020)
Defending Against Unprecedented Attacks on Fair Housing: 2019 Fair Housing Trends Report (National Fair Housing Alliance, 2019)
Estimating the Gap in Affordable and Available Rental Units for Families (Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, Apr. 2, 2019)
Fair Housing Organization Websites
National Fair Housing Alliance
The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) works to eliminate housing discrimination and to ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through leadership, education, outreach, membership services, public policy initiatives, community development, advocacy, and enforcement. NFHA is providing resources on the fair housing implications of COVID-19.
For additional information, visit nationalfairhousing.org.
The University of Illinois at Chicago John Marshall Law School’s Fair Housing Legal Support Center & Clinic is dedicated to educating the public about fair housing law and providing legal assistance to private or public organizations that seek to eliminate discriminatory housing practices. The Center, established in 1992, provides testing and investigation training and services to housing providers, management companies, fair housing agencies, and government offices. It also provides civic associations, community-based organizations, the real estate industry, and private fair housing groups with legal information about rights and responsibilities under the fair housing laws. Its Community Legal Clinic represents clients in the Chicago metro area who have been illegally denied housing because of discrimination.
eBooks & Other Resources
The following eBooks and digital audiobooks are available to NAR members:
Commemoration of the Fair Housing Act Collection (Kindle, eBook)
Housing Segregation in Suburban America Since 1960 (Kindle, eBook)
Making Housing More Affordable (Kindle, eBook)
The Color of Wealth (Kindle, eBook)
The resources below are available for loan through the NAR Library & Archives. Up to three books, tapes, CDs and/or DVDs can be borrowed for 30 days from the Library for a nominal fee of $10. Call the NAR Library & Archives at 800-874-6500 for assistance.
The Fight for Fair Housing : Causes, Consequences, and Future Implications of the 1968 Federal Fair Housing Act (New York, NY: Routledge, 2018) HD7288.76.U5 F54 2018)
Moving Toward Integration : The Past and Future of Fair Housing (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2018) HD7288.76.U5 S27 2018
The One-Way Street of Integration Fair Housing and the Pursuit of Racial Justice in American Cities (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2018) HD7288.76.U5
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (New York, NY: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2017) E185.61 .R8185 2017
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