04 Jun Fair Housing Act Must Become our Rallying Cry
By Barbara Chandler, Senior Advisor of Civil Rights & Fair Housing, Metro Housing|Boston
Fifty years ago the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. Of great significance to housing was the inclusion of Title VIII – known as the Fair Housing Act. The Civil Rights Act and the Fair Housing Act created greater protections for persons discriminated against due to their race, national origin, color, gender, disability & familial status. 1968 was also when the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders released the Kerner Report. The report found that our nation was so divided that the United States was poised to fracture into two radically unequal societies – one black, one white.
All of the above would lead us to believe that our country was off to an auspicious start in reducing discrimination. Tragically, that was not the case. Civil rights protected class members are experiencing greater discrimination today than before 1968. The growing disparities, economic and otherwise, have contributed to increased discrimination in housing. We are closer than ever to having “two radically unequal societies”.
The Fair Housing Act also contains a powerful mandate – that it is simply not enough to prohibit housing discrimination, but that the federal government must do more in its programs and activities to achieve the aims of the Fair Housing Act. This mandate is known as Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH).
In 2015, HUD finalized its AFFH rule, which creates a new fair housing planning framework that states, local communities, and public housing authorities will use to better understand existing fair housing barriers, and how those barriers can be overcome.
AFFH is a powerful step towards reducing barriers to equal access to housing opportunity for all civil rights protected classes. Opportunities include safe, affordable housing, quality public schools, access to jobs with livable wages, efficient public transportation and clean environments. The goal of AFFH is to increase access to opportunities for all.
But we must commit to AFFH or we face another 50 years of two separate societies. Please join Metro Housing|Boston in its efforts to promote fair housing.
The 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act must become our rallying cry to recommit to creating strong, diverse, inclusive and most importantly, respectful communities.