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Equal Housing for Women and Others Remains Tough to Find

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Equal Housing for Women and Others

Equal Housing Remains Tough to Find

It has been 51 years since the enactment of the Fair Housing Act in 1968 that was a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibited discrimination based on sex, race, national origin, or religion in real estate transactions regarding whether a person wants to buy a home or sell a home or rent a home, seek housing assistance, get a mortgage, or other housing-related activities.

The Act applies to direct providers of housing, real estate companies, banks or other lending institutions, homeowners insurance companies, or municipalities whose discriminatory practices could make housing or home improvements unavailable to certain people.  

Lisa Rice is the CEO and president of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), which is the sole national organization specifically dedicated to ending housing discrimination. Rice has fought for years to uphold these laws and feels that some progress has been made, but that progress is slipping away and has to be constantly fought for, as there continues to be perceived bias and a weakening of protections discrimination against a woman, a disabled person, or a person of color.  In the real estate agent world, the vast number of licenced real estate agents across the country are women.  Many of the best REALTORS are women

 

The Abuses

It has been a challenge when landlords and others demand sexual favors, or renters with children are overlooked, or landlords charge women higher prices for their rentals, or a woman on maternity leave is denied a loan because she “isn’t presently working.” Low-income women are particularly hesitant to report such abuse because they may be afraid to take a chance of losing their homes or having the possibility of not improving the lives of themselves and their children.

 

National Origin

The Fair Housing Act also prohibits discrimination based upon national origin, meaning the country of an individual’s birth, or where their ancestors originated, even Native Americans. The Justice Department has taken action against certain municipal governments that have attempted to limit the number of such families that are allowed to live in their communities. They have sued lenders under the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Fair Housing Act when they have imposed more stringent standards and less favorable terms on loans for borrowers of certain origins. The Department has also brought suits against private landlords who have discriminated against such individuals.

 

Lawsuits

There have been housing discrimination lawsuits such as the ACLU of Missouri and the American Civil Liberties Union Women’s Rights Project filing a federal lawsuit that was completed in September of 2018 with the city agreeing to overhaul the law. Another lawsuit has been filed on behalf of those renters with low incomes who received “Section 8” vouchers for housing and were discriminated against. The Fair Housing Testing Program attempts to uncover hidden discrimination based on race or color and holds responsible parties accountable.

 

HUD Reduced Funding

However, it doesn’t help that beginning in 2018, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which is supposed to enforce the fair housing laws, weakened the Act’s protections and also reduced the needed funding for local groups. HUD has stopped or slowed numerous high-priority investigations and enforcement of the Act and has announced expected plans to revise its Equal Access Rule, which has been a powerful tool to protect people from discriminatory practices.

 

Continuation by NFHA

Rice vows that NFHA will continue to aid women, the disabled, and minorities and help them with the understanding of their rights granted by the Fair Housing Act. It will encourage them to get help if they face discrimination. She feels that this is an important and major issue because housing discrimination stops a family from living in secure and safe housing. It also has negative implications on school performance, health, and the economic security of the family.   

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