While Richard B. Morris* was NAREB president, the United States experienced rioting in Detroit and Newark, and spreading civil disorder because of the Vietnam war.
Mr. Morris traveled more than 100,000 miles to major American cities, encountering a “massive wave of feeling against the rioting and other destructive activities.” He said that citizens everywhere had come to the end of their patience with lawlessness and disorder, and asserted that “we must be bold, imaginative, cooperative, and innovative to solve the ills of our cities and our disadvantaged people.”
He appointed a special committee to review the role of REALTORS® in solving the problem of equal opportunity in housing and to recommend possible courses of action. “We oppose forced housing legislation,” he said, deploring it as an attempt to inject compulsion into the private contracts by which citizens decide upon the disposition of their own property. However, he asked whether the REALTOR® had lived up to “the grave social responsibility to which we subscribe in our Code of Ethics…Have we met our obligations in the difficult field of human rights?” he asked. “Have we suggested positive non-compulsory solutions to the problem?”
Congress allocated $10 million to the rent supplement program, enabling the government to pay part of the rent of poor tenants. In repeated testimony before congressional committees, Mr. Morris emphasized that people of low income should be assisted in purchasing a home. “Help these people to become homeowners, and you have gone a long way toward starting them up the ladder of attainment,” he said.
Mr. Morris also supported the Model Cities program, which received an appropriation of $312 million to help cities improve slum areas, and he urged involvement on the part of the business community. “It is from the private sector that the great effort and large-scale financing must come to make over our cities,” he said.
The Association claimed a major victory in 1967 when publishers of all principal dictionaries in the United States agreed to carry the correct definition of “REALTORS®” in all future printings. Major factors influencing the decision included 19 successful court cases in which NAREB’s ownership of the term was upheld, and the nationwide REALTOR® advertising program telling the REALTOR® story.
Born in Buffalo, New York, in 1915, Mr. Morris attended the University of Buffalo, joining his father at B.W. Morris & Son, Inc. in 1934.
Mr. Morris served as Association treasurer in 1964-65 and was a member of the Executive Committee. He was president of the New York State Association of Real Estate Boards, and served as a member of the Real Estate Advisory Committee for the state of New York. One of his best known accomplishments in real estate was his active role in the conversion of the Marine Drive apartments in Buffalo from public to private housing.
A Navy pilot during World War II, Mr. Morris was a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy reserve. He was president of the lay advisory board of Mercy Hospital, a trustee of the Erie County Savings Bank, and a vestryman of the Trinity Episcopal Church in Hamburg, New York.
Source: Presidents of the National Association of REALTORS®, (Chicago: NAR, 1980).