By Travis Close, ABR, GREEN, GRI, e-PRO
President, Greater Chattanooga Association of REALTORS®
Before April comes to a close, it’s important to take note that this month marks the 47th anniversary of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. Passed at the urging of President Lyndon Johnson following the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or disability when renting, buying or securing housing financing.
In addition to classes protected by the Fair Housing Act, Article 10 of the REALTOR® Code of Ethics includes sexual orientation and gender identity as reasons for which “REALTORS® shall not deny equal professional services to any person.” In an effort to promote fair housing beyond this month commemorating the Act, the National Association of REALTORS® published the 2015 Fair Housing Focus, which I’ve shared below.
In our industry, there’s naturally a significant focus on the buying and selling of property. It’s what real estate professionals do! But when it comes to fair housing, the transaction itself is only one important aspect of a much bigger issue. Until inequity and under-representation no longer stand in the way of housing opportunity and stable home values where they’re needed most – there’s plenty more work to be done.
Through active engagement, REALTORS® can effect positive, big-picture change. No one understands community better than REALTORS®. In response to the eye-opening events in Ferguson, Missouri last year, and the ensuing inquiry into racial and economic imbalances across the country, the St. Louis Association of REALTORS® found a positive role leading the discussion with regard to community. It developed four principles that exemplify the REALTOR® commitment to fair housing, and serve as a sensible model for all of us concerned with creating inclusive communities.
- Diverse Neighborhoods. REALTORS® are already the best advocates for inclusive communities, because they understand the value of diverse neighborhoods, a key tenet of fair housing.
- Diversity in REALTOR® Leadership. By actively engaging minority members in leadership roles, state and local associations will benefit from governing bodies that accurately reflect their membership and bring to the table a heightened sensitivity to race issues.
- Diversity among Community Leadership. REALTORS® have the power to help elect candidates who are passionate about fair housing. The REALTOR® Party exists to share its resources and expertise with state and local associations that want to give a leg-up to the best candidates for the job: those who will promote and create broader housing opportunities.
- Land Use and Neighborhood Revitalization Policies that Invite and Sustain Diversity. The REALTOR® Party has numerous programs designed to address aspects of fair housing, from land use policy to neighborhood revitalization. Whether you’re starting small or thinking big, sprucing up a single city block or re-drafting zoning law to promote diverse neighborhoods, the REALTOR® Party is there for you.
For REALTORS®, it’s time to take it beyond the transaction. Now, more than ever, we invite you the consumer to consider how you can join REALTORS® to take the lead in creating a reality of fair housing for all.