One of the nation’s largest state REALTOR® associations is joining a growing chorus of real estate industry groups apologizing for racist historical practices and promising action to support equal access to housing in the future.
The California Association of REALTORS® publicly acknowledged Friday that the organization once backed discriminatory housing policies, the effects of which continue to perpetuate the state’s racial wealth and homeownership gaps. Decades ago, C.A.R.—then known as the California Real Estate Association—opposed neighborhood integration, saying it could negatively affect property values, and endorsed “redlining” and racially restrictive covenants. The association also excluded women and people of color from membership.
“The association was wrong,” C.A.R. President Otto Catrina said in a statement. “We not only apologize for those actions, we strongly condemn them, and we will continue working to address the legacy of these discriminatory policies and practices.”
C.A.R.’s apology follows that of the Minneapolis Area REALTORS®, which earlier this month also expressed regret for supporting similar historical policies. Both associations have vowed to move forward with a commitment to numerous fair housing efforts. The National Association of REALTORS® acknowledged in 2020 that its past policies contributed to segregation and racial inequality in America.
“We have continued to unpack our difficult and sometimes obscure history of opposing fair housing laws, promoting segregation and racial exclusion prior to the Fair Housing Act of 1968,” Catrina said. “As an organization that deeply values inclusion, we can’t change the actions of the past, but we are taking bold action now to help build a more equitable and just future.”
C.A.R. announced some of its recent efforts to promote fair housing:
- Sponsor two pieces of state legislation that would require periodic implicit bias training for real estate salespersons and strengthen consumer protections against appraisal bias.
- Offer a grant to cover closing costs for members of underserved communities.
- Donate to the Black Wealth Builders Fund, a down payment assistance program for Black home buyers in the Bay Area.
- Partner with nonprofit organizations that support greater homeownership for members of underserved communities.
- Sponsor and support a variety of policies that address supply and affordability challenges for communities of color.
- Cosponsor a bill that would overturn Article 34, a state law the association helped pass in the 1950s that makes it harder for communities to build affordable housing.
- Support legislation that provides a system for redacting restrictive covenants in property records.