IAA has a longstanding commitment to fair and equal housing for all. The association works throughout the year to promote Fair Housing awareness for multifamily professionals.
April 2018 is the 50th anniversary of the adopting of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA), which protects people from discrimination when they are renting a home. Fair Housing awareness helps ensure multifamily properties are offering housing free from discrimination.
Enacted on April 11, 1968, the act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race or color; national origin; religion; sex; familial status, including children under the age of 18 who are living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18; and handicap or disability.
The beginning of the FHA ultimately rests with the formation of Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a Cabinet-level agency created in 1965, according to propertymanagementinsider.com. After HUD was established, President Lyndon B. Johnson’s administration sought a law that would prohibit discrimination in the sale and rental housing.
In 1966, almost two years to the day before the FHA was finally passed, President Johnson summoned a distinguished group of civil rights advocates that included the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to the White House to address the country’s discrimination in the sale and rental of housing. Congress, however, did not pass the bill that was the outcome of this meeting, and a second attempt in 1967 failed, despite intense lobbying. Finally, after Dr. King’s assassination on April 4, 1968, President Johnson convinced Congress to approve the bill, also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1968 or Open Housing Act of 1968. The act was signed into law seven days later. An amendment was added in 1974 addressing discrimination of sex, and a comprehensive amendment in 1988 included discrimination against people because of disability and familial status.
Today, the FHA resonates much the same as it did in 1968, and it has been expanded to prohibit discrimination in the rental, sale, and financing of dwellings. FHA not only applies to conventional housing, but Rural Development and LIHTC as well. HUD continues to enforce the FHA, which is administered by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.
It’s important that multifamily professionals understand the compliance requirements of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and their respective updates, to enhance community appeal, help avoid expensive penalties, and protect brand reputation.