This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. In 1968, President Johnson signed Act into law after many failed tries. Efforts at passing the act had hit roadblocks for many years, but the recent assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. urged Congress to approve the bill. According to the Office of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), “President Johnson viewed the Act as a fitting memorial to [King’s] life work” since King was closely tied with fair housing legislation.
Since then, the goal of the Fair Housing Act has been to “prohibit discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin,” (HUD). Amendments to the act have been expanded to include those with disabilities or with particular familial statuses (i.e. families containing a pregnant woman or children).
So what does this mean for you?
For starters, it means that everyone has a right to not be discriminated against when it comes to renting or purchasing a home. If you feel that you are being discriminated against based on your race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status, you have the right to report the violation.
The first step is making yourself aware of what housing discrimination can look like. While large-scale discrimination may be on the decline, subtle things like the following could still point to discrimination:
Charging higher rent for an identical unit
Any form of intimidation or harassment
Refusing to accommodate a disability
Advertising units as “adults only”
The next step is taking a stand. If you experience any of these, filing a report through HUD’s online form is certainly encouraged or contacting the City of Chattanooga's Office of Multicultural Affairs at (423) 643-6702.