Fair Housing: Yesterday and Today

We commemorate Fair Housing Month each April by remembering and celebrating the anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. Passed in the aftermath of the Chicago Freedom Movement and the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968, the Fair Housing Act committed our nation to a goal that we still fight for today: to eliminate housing discrimination and create equal opportunity in every community. Fair housing laws are crucial, because where you live affects everything else in your life: your health, access to education, opportunities for employment, and more. To create a more just and equitable society, we need to expand access to fair and affordable housing.

As 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act and MLK’s assassination, it’s important to consider what advances and setbacks have been made in the past half-century to prevent discrimination and promote inclusion. Today, more protected classes are included in the Act and many of our communities are more diverse and welcoming than they were in 1968. The Obama Administration took an important step in 2015 to fight housing discrimination by strengthening existing federal rules for Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH), which require local governments that receive certain federal funds to analyze challenges to fair housing choice and establish their own goals and priorities to address the fair housing barriers in their community. At the beginning of 2018, however, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development suspended this rule until 2020. This step backward in enforcing AFFH makes now a particularly poignant time for us to reflect, educate, and organize. Housing discrimination and segregation continue to persist in many forms nationwide, and we have a long way to go to build truly inclusive, equitable communities.

Join the Conversation

In the summer of 2018, Housing Action Illinois is partnering with HOPE Fair Housing to facilitate community conversations about housing rights. Learn how the Fair Housing Act protects people in your community—including people of color, families with children, religious households, and people with disabilities—from discrimination when trying to find a place to call home. We’ll discuss the history of the Fair Housing Act, consider real-world scenarios, and share local opportunities to take action. Check our calendar to find the times and locations of these (free) conversations.