REALTORS® Commemorate 50th Anniversary of Fair Housing Act

Who among us doesn’t have a dream? From our great-great-grandparents’ generation to our own, we have all had a dream of providing better lives for our children and the generations that follow. Owning a home is a big part of that dream for many.

Jerry Martin

Who among us doesn’t have a dream? From our great-great-grandparents’ generation to our own, we have all had a dream of providing better lives for our children and the generations that follow. Owning a home is a big part of that dream for many.

It is why I take great pride in the fact that Washington REALTORS®, in partnership with the National Association of REALTORS®, has launched a year-long effort to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.

According to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website, “The Fair Housing Act protects people from discrimination when they are renting, buying, or securing financing for any housing. The prohibitions specifically cover discrimination because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and the presence of children.”

Washington state law has additional protected classes, including, but not limited to, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity and veteran/military status. Local jurisdictional ordinances may include additional protected classes.

Celebrating the Dream for All

Fifty years ago this month on April 11, 1968, the federal Fair Housing Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson. In his comments that day, President Johnson included a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who had worked for equality and human rights. President Johnson also noted the Fair Housing Act “proclaimed that fair housing for all--all human beings who live in this country--is now a part of the American way of life.”

From my personal point of view as a person of color and a REALTOR® for more than 20 years, commemorating 50 years of the Fair Housing Act deserves our full attention. I am deeply appreciative of the great sacrifices and efforts made leading up to this event and what it means for all of us who dream of richer, fuller lives for those in our households and families.

Helping people achieve the dream of homeownership is one of the greatest joys of the REALTOR® profession.

Celebrating at the State Capitol

In February, Washington REALTORS® members and staff attended the signing of a Resolution recognizing the 50th Anniversary of the federal Fair Housing Act, introduced by the Washington State Senate in Olympia. REALTORS® had advocated for the measure during this year’s Legislative Session with a clear message:

“The 1968 federal Fair Housing Act was the final major legislative achievement of the civil rights era. Fair housing is more than a list of dos and don’ts, rights and penalties, and mandatory continuing education. As stewards of the right to own, use and transfer private property, fair housing protects both communities and our livelihood as REALTORS® and depends on a free, open market that embraces equal opportunity. Fair Housing Makes US Stronger.”

More to Do

After 50 years, there certainly remain challenges and obstacles to be addressed because of misguided attitudes that unfortunately still exist in the shadowy depths of some communities and in individual mindsets.

But, look how far we have come! Most in today’s society understand that such biases and outright prejudices are simply not acceptable. And, those who dream will not be deterred!

I remain hopeful that within my own lifetime, there will eventually be no need to rely on a formal law or a Congressional Act so that our children and grandchildren can freely pursue what we so passionately support as REALTORS®…the American Dream of homeownership.

REALTORS®* are trusted real estate advisors for a clear, concise and responsible pathway for those who “dare to dream” of owning their own homes. On the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, we reaffirm our commitment to equal housing opportunities and that American Dream!

*Note: Not all real estate practitioners are REALTORS®; look for the REALTOR® logo when choosing your broker. It indicates they belong to the National Association of REALTORS® and pledge to adhere to a strict Code of Ethics.

Originally featured in The Olympian, Sunday, April 15, 2018.

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