Trading Sex for Rent? Why We Still Need the Fair Housing Act

Trading Sex for Rent? Why We Still Need the Fair Housing Act

Last month we celebrated the Fair Housing Act, the 1968 signing of the landmark legislation designed to eliminate housing discrimination and create equal opportunity for every community regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. 

There are still challenges, a friend explained to me. He has been working in the fair housing industry for years, and continues to see discriminatory practices and inequities. For homeownership, he said, many minorities find access to capital to be an impenetrable barrier. They continue to have challenges finding inexpensive and non-predatory mortgage loans. A recent study, for example, found African-Americans to be 105 percent and Latinos 78 percent more likely to have high cost mortgages for home purchases based on a single measure: race.

And for renters who don’t know their rights, complaints can range from landlords withholding security deposits without cause to more nefarious and unlawful acts like landlords offering to trade sex for rent from vulnerable female tenants  desperate to keep a roof over their heads. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) says it received 155 such claims nationwide in 2016. That doesn't include complaints filed through private lawsuits. While he has seen several of those cases in recent months, he said they seldom hit the news because many are settled privately to protect the tenant. 

Mr. Mike Teer, a retired realtor and community leader, forwarded this Fair Housing timeline to me. It illustrates how inequality is legislated and institutionalized in our country, and just how challenging it is to correct. If you believe your housing rights have been violated or you are looking to buy or rent a home and want to know your rights, contact the Fair Housing Council at (951) 682-6581.

Fair Housing Timeline

1789 The 5th Ammendment to the Constitution establishes private property rights–those rights are generally limited to White men. Slaves are considered property.

1839 Mississippi adopts the Married Women's property Act allowing married women to independently own property. The original constitutions of Kansas, Nevada and Oregon allowed women to own property without regard to marital status.

1848 Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican American War and included a provision that Mexican property holders were to retain full enjoyment and protection of their property as if they were citizens of the United States.

1851 The Land Claims Act limited the amount of time property owners from former Mexican territory had to register their titles, resulting in many property owners losing their land.

1857 The Dred Scott Decision–Supreme Court declares that Blacks could not be citizens and had no rights Whites were bound to respect.

1859 Oregon Constitution prohibits Chinese and Chinese Americans from owning land.

1859 Emancipation Proclamation declares that all persons held as slaves within the rebellious states are, and henceforward shall be free.

1865 Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution abolishes slavery in the United States.

1866 Civil Rights Act declares that all citizens shall have the same property rights as White citizens.

1868 Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution declares that all persons born in the United States are citizens, and all citizens are guaranteed equal protection of the law.

1872 Freedman's Bureau established in 1865 were shut down.

1882 Chinese Exclusion Act bans all immigration of Chinese laborers. Susbsequent laws denied immigration and citizenship to persons from many Asian nations, and many state laws denied non-citizens the rights to own property.

1896 Plessy v. Ferguson–United States Supreme Court rules that "Separate but Equal" is lawful.

1908 Founding of the National Association of Real Estate Boards, later the National Association of REALTORS®, which allows local boards to limit membership based on race or gender.

1917 Buchanan v. Warley–United States Supreme Court outlaws zoning based on race. Emergence of racially restrictive covenants.

1924 Code of Ethics states that a REALTOR® should never be instrumental in introducing into a neighborhood a character of property or occupancy, members of any race or nationality, or any individuals whose presence will clearly be detrimental to property values in that neighborhood.

1924 United States Supreme Court in Village of Euclid v. Amber Realty upheld zoning based on keeping land uses separate.

1926 Corrigan v. Buckley–United States Supreme Court rejected a legal challenge to racially restrictive covenants.

1934 National Housing Act and Residential Security Maps had the result of denying financing in older urban areas and predominantly Black neighborhoods.

1942 President Roosevelt signs executive order interning Japanese American citizens on the west coast, resulting in the loss of property, homes and businesses.

1943 Stuyvesant Town housing project in New York approved for development with the exclusion of Black residents.

1947 African American real estate brokers form the National Associations of Real Estate Brokers with the mission of "Democracy in Housing".

1948 Shelley v. Kraemer–United States Supreme Court ends enforcement of racially restrictive covenants.

1950 National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing formed.

1956 Interstate Highway Act paves way for urban highways often sued to physically separate White and Black communities and destroyed many African American business districts.

1957 New York becomes the first city to ban discrimination in private housing.

1959 Colorado becomes the first state to ban discrimination in private housing. By 1965, sixteen states had laws agains public market housing discrimination.

1962 President Kennedy bans discrimination in housing funded by the federal government.

1963 California Rumford Act bans all housing discrimination in publicly funded housing and in all housing in buildings of five units or more.

1966 Chicago Freedom Movement and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. bring a focus to housing segregation and the need for open housing.

1967 United States Supreme Court finds that a referendum, supported by the real estate industry, to repeal the Rumford Act violated the Civil Rights Act 1866.

1967 National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing conducts audit to document fair housing/discriminatory treatment.

1968 Fair Housing Act adopted less than a week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

1968 United States Supreme Court in Jones v. Mayer ruled that the Civil Rights Act of 1866 applied to discrimination in the private real estate market.

1974 Fair Housing Act amended to include protections based on gender.

1975 NAR and HUD adopt a Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement calling for extensive training of REALTORS® and cooperation between REALTOR® Boards and local fair housing organizations.

1985 Congress passes legislation, with the support of NAR, establishing the Fair Housing Initiatives Program funding testing of fair housing complaints.

1988 President Reagan signs the Fair Housing Amendments Act into law. Adopted with NAR support, it adds fair housing protections based on disability and familial status and establishes and administrative enforcement process for fair housing complaints.

2008 NAR participates in a Fair Housing Commission which calls for stronger enforcement of HUD's Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Obligations.

2009 NAR calls for Fair Housing Protections based on sexual orientation, amending its code of ethics.

2013 NAR further amends the code of ethics to include protections based on gender identity.

2016 NAR calls for changes in the Fair Housing Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.

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