What is the Fair Housing Act?

After more than a decade of protest, sacrifice, and diligent work with those with legislative power, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was completed and passed by Congress. A portion of the bill dealt with the illegal and discriminatory practice of segregation concerning housing. The Fair Housing Act (FHA) consists of Titles VIII through IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. While there was already federal legislation that prohibited discrimination in housing, there were no provisions addressing the actual enforcement of the law. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 expanded on the existing legislature and prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, nationality, and sex.

If existing legislation existed, why was the Fair Housing Act necessary?

It was essential because the existing legislation (at the time) only provided private solutions (i.e., civil suits). The Fair Housing Act of 1968 allowed for solutions to be found in the federal court system, making discrimination in housing a federal crime.

What does this look like today?

On May 20, 2019, the Bipartisan Fair and Equal Housing Act were introduced in the House of Representatives by Representatives Brad Schneider (D-IL) and Susan Brooks (R-IN). On April 30, 2019, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced this in the Senate. The Fair and Equal Housing Act expands on the existing protections to include protections in housing for the LGBTQ community by adding "sexual orientation" and "gender identity" as protected characteristics within the Fair Housing Act.

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