Every time April rolls around, I find myself being thankful to Dr. Martin Luther King and all those who participated in the civil rights movement.Â Because of their efforts and signature of then President Lyndon B. Johnson, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was enacted into law and afforded all Americans equal housing protection.
To give you a little history, the Civil Rights Act of 1968, also known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental, advertising, and financing of housing based on race, religion, and national origin.Â In 1974, the act was amended to include gender; and in 1988, families with children and the disabled.
Most people donâ€™t know that there was a Civil Right Act in 1866.Â Â This earlier act entitled people born in the United States without regard to race, color, or previous condition of slavery or involuntary servitude equal protection and justice under the law that was given by the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution.Â Unlike the Civil Rights Act of 1968, this particular act had no enforcement behind it.
With 43 years of progress, housing disparities continue to persist.Â Back in December of 2010, the U.S.Department of Justice settled a housing discrimination case against South Dakota Apartment OwnersÂ for creating a hostile environment for an African American family and two Caucasian families who Â stood up for the familyâ€™s housing rights.Â The level of harassment was so great that those families were forced to move out of their homes and seek legal remedies for their forced departure.
In Los Angeles, Â Â the U.S. Department of Justice had the largest monetary settlement ever obtained for a case alleging housing discrimination in the rental of apartments.Â The Los Angeles owner agreed to pay $2.725 million to settle allegations that the ownerâ€™s property management company discriminated against African-Americans, Latinos, and families with children.
Again, recently federal officials launched an investigation to determine if 22 mortgage lenders discriminated against qualified African-American and Latino borrowers by denying them government loans.
The National Fair Housing Alliance has reported a small increase in fair housing complaints across the nation.Â Often alleged acts of discrimination or unequal treatment go unreported.Â Â The slight increase in complaints signifies a need to educate people about their rights; and housing industry people about their responsibilities and obligations under the law.
Â It is a travesty that in our nation that fair housing continues to be an issue. Everyone has a right to justice and equality in housing.Â If you feel that you have been a victim of housing discrimination, please contact your local fair housing council or U.S. Department of Housing and Development Fair Housing Enforcement Division.