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Honor Fair Housing Month by Taking Action

Fair Housing Month each April marks the April 1968 passage of the federal Fair Housing Act. The act, expanded in 1988, prohibits housing discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability—and commits the federal government to curtail residential segregation. The REALTOR® Code of Ethics builds on the federal law and also prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

But while progress has been made, the promise of fair housing remains unfulfilled. In 2018, 50 years after passage of the Fair Housing Act, the Black homeownership rate was 30 percentage points below that of white Americans, and that disparity remains today.

November 2019 brought evidence of the need to strengthen fair housing education and enforcement. That’s when Newsday released the results of its three-year investigation showing unequal treatment by local real estate agents 49% of the time against Blacks, 39% of the time against Hispanics and 19% of the time against Asians.

A Commitment to ‘Act!’
As part of its year-long commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) pledged to do more. Since then, “NAR has redoubled its commitment to fighting for fair housing and equal opportunity for all,” notes Bryan Greene, vice president of policy advocacy. “Part of that involves giving our members tools to adhere to the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, follow the law and become advocates for fair housing, ensuring that everyone is treated equally while searching for a home.”

In early 2020, NAR launched the ACT! Initiative, a fair housing action plan emphasizing accountability, culture change and training. Its goal is to ensure that REALTORS® lead the charge against housing discrimination by promoting equity, fighting racial bias and helping to build more inclusive communities.

Fair Housing Is Not Just Fair
“Fair housing is good for business, good for your community and good for the economy,” says Greene. “Discrimination distorts the marketplace, prevents qualified buyers from accessing housing opportunities and denies neighborhoods the benefit of integration. It can cost agents commissions and stifle our economy by reducing the size of the pie. Conversely, when segregation is addressed and strong fair housing laws and practices are in place, all boats are lifted.”

NAR is committed to championing efforts that ensure equal access to homeownership during Fair Housing Month and every day of the year. We are asking all REALTORS® to join the fight to end discrimination in housing and stand up for diverse, inclusive communities where everyone can thrive.

How Can You Honor Fair Housing Month?
Take advantage of these invaluable tools and resources:

Fairhaven: A Fair Housing Simulation
This online training uses the power of storytelling to help agents identify, prevent and address discriminatory practices. It requires users to respond to real-life scenarios and confront discrimination from both the agent’s and homebuyer’s viewpoint. Users receive customized feedback.

Implicit Bias Training 
An online training video and classroom curriculum help agents understand how our unconscious brains associate stereotypes with people from different backgrounds, causing us to treat people unfairly without intent or conscious awareness. The classroom training, which qualifies for CE credit in some states, offers practical tools, customized to the real estate context, to help override hidden biases.

Fair Housing Month Proclamation
Spread the word about fair housing beyond your office by asking your local political leaders to pass this proclamation.

Encourage Your Agents to Grow Their Fair Housing Awareness
Start by sending agents to the fictional town of Fairhaven at nar.realtor/fairhaven. They can take the innovative, immersive training at their own pace, then explore all the fair housing resources available at www.nar.realtor/fair-housing.

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