Neighborhood Aerial Shot

Martin Luther King Jr. fought for various civil rights causes on behalf of African-Americans because he felt that all people should be treated equally under the law. In the wake of his assassination on April 4, 1968, Congress passed what many consider to be one of the bedrock pieces of legislation to come out of the civil rights movement of the era: the Fair Housing Act.

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the act. Various events are being held throughout the country where people can celebrate the anniversary and talk about the future. Quicken Loans was recently a presenting sponsor of a Detroit event aimed at advancing the dialogue around fair housing initiatives.

In celebration of the anniversary, we thought we’d take a look at what the Fair Housing Act represents, as well as the history of the legislation.

Purpose of the Fair Housing Act

There’s a lot that goes into any legislation in terms of how it’s implemented, but the purpose and goals of the Fair Housing Act are actually fairly straightforward.

The act prohibits discrimination in real estate transactions on the basis of several personal characteristics. These characteristics include:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex or sexual orientation
  • Disability
  • Familial status (whether or not you have children or are pregnant, etc.)
  • Nationality

No one involved in a real estate transaction is allowed to discriminate against you on the basis of these personal attributes. This means that lenders and brokers have to treat everyone on an equal basis when it comes to providing financing. Sellers and appraisers are also held to these standards.

History and Evolution of the Act

One of Dr. King’s major causes in his civil rights work was the push for fair housing. After his assassination, President Lyndon B. Johnson felt it would be a fitting tribute to get the fair housing legislation that was working its way through Congress passed in short order. Thus, it was signed exactly one week after his death.

The act as originally passed covered four areas of discrimination: race, color, religion and nationality.

In 1974, the act was expanded to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender.

Finally, in 1988, the Fair Housing Amendments Act was passed. With the passage of this act came the last couple of major changes to fair housing law.

Landlords and others could no longer discriminate on the basis of familial status, meaning you had a fair shot at housing regardless of whether you had children or were pregnant.

The act was amended so that no one could be discriminated against in housing considerations on the basis of disability. Within the law were certain standards that required multi-family housing be accessible to those with disabilities if the home was constructed after March 13, 1991.

At Quicken Loans, we’re committed to upholding the mission of the Fair Housing Act and making sure that everyone wishing to buy a house has a shot at getting one.

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