Fair Housing - It's the Law

In the United States, the phrase fair housing dates back to Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly known as the federal Fair Housing Act. It refers to a political movement to outlaw discrimination in the rental or purchase of homes because of race, color, religion or national origin. At the urging of President Lyndon Baines Johnson, Congress passed the federal Fair Housing Act in April 1968 only one week after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 1974 sex was added as a protected class under the federal Fair Housing Act and, in the 1988 Fair Housing Amendments Act, federal coverage was expanded to prohibit discrimination based on disability or familial status (presence of child under age of 18 and pregnant women). The 1988 Amendments also established new enforcement mechanisms for HUD and the Department of Justice. The goal of these laws and others, at both the state and federal levels, is to create equal housing opportunities for all persons living in America by prohibiting discrimination in housing.

What is housing discrimination?

According to RI State and/or US Federal Fair Housing Laws, doing any of the following things, based on race, color, national origin, religion, family status (having children under 18), mental or physical disability, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, age (18+), or status as a victim of domestic violence:

• Refuse to rent or sell to a person
• Tell a person housing is not available if it is not true
• Show a person homes or apartments only in certain neighborhoods
• Set different terms, conditions or privileges for a sale or rental to one person than to   others
• Provide different services or facilities to one person than to others
• Advertise housing only to preferred groups of people
• Refuse to provide mortgage loan information, deny a mortgage loan, set different   terms or conditions on a mortgage loan to a person
• Deny a person property insurance
• Discriminate in the way property appraisals are conducted
• Refuse to make reasonable accommodations needed that result in providing a   disabled person an equal and reasonable opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling
• Fail to design and construct a property in an accessible manner
• Harass, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone helping someone else with his   or her fair housing rights.

To view and print the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) publication, 39 Steps Toward Fair Housing, select the link below. http://www.hud.gov/offices/fheo/39steps.pdf

To view and print the English version of Housing Network’s Homeownership and Fair Housing brochure, select the link below. www.housingnetworkri.org/sub_homeownership_files/pdf/fairhousing_en.pdf

To view and print the Spanish version of Housing Network’s Homeownership and Fair Housing brochure, select the link below. www.housingnetworkri.org/sub_homeownership_files/pdf/fairhousing_sp.pdf