Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s Life Work Led To Fair Housing In America

Today, as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who is best known as a leader in the Civil Rights movement, I wanted to look at how his efforts also ultimately resulted in the Fair Housing Act, which sought to end discrimination in housing.

Through the efforts of the civil rights movement, Dr. King and others were able to get the attention of our nation resulting in President John F. Kennedy, in a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, urging the nation to ” take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race.”  Shortly after his address to the nation, President Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address rights in many areas such as voting, public accommodations, school desegregation but not housing at the time.  Even though President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his efforts beforehand still resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when, then President, Lyndon Johnson, signed into law on July 2, 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools and made employment discrimination illegal, however, it did not address housing.

Four years later came the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which is also referred to, and more commonly known, as the “Fair Housing Act of 1968″, which expanded the original civil rights act to include prohibiting discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex.  President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law on April 11, 1968, one week after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

Fair Housing Resources:

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resources and information…

HUD Files Housing Discrimination Complaint Against Facebook

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) just announced that they have filed a formal complaint against Facebook for violating the Federal Fair Housing Act by “allowing landlords and home sellers to use its advertising platform to engage in housing discrimination“.

Some of the ways HUD alleges that Facebook platform violates the Federal Fair Housing Act include:

  • display housing ads either only to men or women;
  • not show ads to Facebook users interested in an “assistance dog,” “mobility scooter,” “accessibility” or “deaf culture”;
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “child care” or “parenting,” or show ads only to users with children above a specified age;
  • to display/not display ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in a particular place of worship, religion or tenet, such as the “Christian Church,” “Sikhism,” “Hinduism,” or the “Bible.”
  • not show ads to users whom Facebook categorizes as interested in “Latin America,” “Canada,” “Southeast Asia,” “China,” “Honduras,” or “Somalia.”
  • draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes.

You can read the contents of the HUD complaint against Facebook here.

This is an example of why it is imperative that real estate agents, investors, landlords, and home sellers that choose to handle their own home sale know and understand the Federal Fair Housing Act including things that are prohibited under the Act.  It never ceases to amaze me how many FSBO’s (for sale by owners) feel they are exempt from all housing laws and regulations just because they are not a real estate agent.  I’m surprised as well by how many real estate agents really don’t fully understand it either and think things like what they do on Facebook is different than if done in a classified ad in a newspaper or just because a platform gives you the ability to do something (such as target just one sex) it makes it ok, which it obviously does not.

In any event, when it comes time to buy or sell real estate, I would encourage you to, first off, not try doing it on your own but use an agent, and then select an agent based upon he or she’s experience, qualifications and knowledge.  A good starting point is here – “How To Choose A Real Estate Agent“.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Paved The Path For Fair Housing

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is a name synonymous with civil rights who, along with his followers, led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. Through the efforts of the civil rights movement, Dr. King and others were able to get the attention of our nation resulting in President John F. Kennedy, in a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, urging the nation to ” take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race.”  Shortly after his address to the nation, President Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address rights in many areas such as voting, public accommodations, school desegregation but not housing at the time.  Even though President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, his efforts beforehand still resulted in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 when, then President, Lyndon Johnson, signed into law on July 2, 1964.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools and made employment discrimination illegal, however, it did not address housing.

Four years later came the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which is also referred to, and more commonly known, as the “Fair Housing Act of 1968″, which expanded the original civil rights act to include prohibiting discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin or sex.  President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law on April 11, 1968, one week after Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. resources and information…

 

 

HUD Issues Directive Warning Refusing To Rent Based Upon Tenants Criminal History May Be Discrimination

Earlier this month, General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) issued guidance on the “Application of Fair Housing Act Standards to the Use of Criminal Records by Providers of Housing and Real Estate-Related Transaction“.  This guidance has caused concern among many landlords as many, in an effort to assure safe housing for their tenants, do criminal background checks on prospective tenants and have a policies against renting to applicants with a criminal background, a practice that, according to this guidance, may very well be considered to be discriminatory now.

Do landlord have to rent all all convicted felons?

While the guidance does not appear to remove a landlord’s ability to establish some restrictions on who they rent to with regard to prior convictions, however does say:

“But housing providers that apply a policy or practice that excludes persons with prior convictions must still be able to prove that such policy or practice is necessary to achieve a substantial, legitimate, nondiscriminatory interest.”

The guidance goes on to make it clear that a blanket prohibition against any person with any conviction, is not going to fly:

“A housing provider that imposes a blanket prohibition on any person with any conviction record – no matter when the conviction occurred, what the underlying conduct entailed, or what the convicted person has done since then – will be unable to meet this burden.”

So, as is often the case, there is a lot of gray area here.  Below I have the entire guidance letter which goes into much more detail.


(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)

Search St Louis Homes For Sale HERE
See ALL Homes That Will Be Open In St Louis This Weekend
5 Key Strategies To Assure A Quick Home Sale At The Maximum PriceGet a Market Report with LIVE up to date Home Sales, Prices and Inventory for ANY St Louis Area HERE

Continue reading “HUD Issues Directive Warning Refusing To Rent Based Upon Tenants Criminal History May Be Discrimination

Requiring Adult Supervision Of Children At An Apartment Pool-Fair Housing Violation?

Today most, if not all, landlords are aware of the Federal Fair Housing Act with regard to making various types of discrimination illegal when it comes to housing and, even if they don’t have a thorough understanding of all of the nuances of the act, at least have a basic understanding of it.  However, today, a lack of a thorough understanding of the law, as well as the risks associated with violating it, or even being accused of violating it, can be quite costly to a landlord.  Therefore, if you are considering becoming a landlord, or perhaps are already in the midst of building your real estate empire, spending time studying and understanding the Federal Fair Housing Act and how it applies to you would be time well spent and it would also be a great move to align yourself with a real estate professional with a good understanding of it that can help you navigate the regulatory waters a landlord must navigate today.

The Case of HUD vs Pebble Beach Apartments –

In July 2013 there was a fair housing violation complaint filed against the owner and manager of the Pebble Beach Apartments alleging they discriminated against a tenant based on familial status in violation of the Fair Housing Act.

The Allegations made by HUD after an investigation: (the numbering corresponds with the complaint itself)

(We work hard on this and sure would appreciate a “Like”)

Search St Louis Homes For Sale HERE
See ALL Homes That Will Be Open In St Louis This Weekend
5 Key Strategies To Assure A Quick Home Sale At The Maximum Price

Continue reading “Requiring Adult Supervision Of Children At An Apartment Pool-Fair Housing Violation?

Landlord Charged With Discrimination Over Cat

Paula Anderson, a landlord who owns a two-bedroom home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, was charged with discrimination by HUD after HUD’s investigation revealed that there was cause to believe Anderson had violated the Federal Fair Housing act as follows:

As described in paragraphs 7 to 25 above, Respondent Anderson violated 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1) and (f)(2) as defined by 42 U.S.C. § 3604(f)(3)(B) because she discriminated in the terms, conditions, or privileges of Complainant’s tenancy and made her dwelling unavailable by refusing to allow Complainant to live with her assistance animal and daughter at the subject property when such accommodations were necessary to afford Complainant an equal opportunity to use and enjoy her dwelling. 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(1), (f)(2), and (f)(3)(B); 24 C.F.R. §§ 100.202(a), 100.202(b), and § 100.204(a). 

The interesting thing about this case is that the “assistance animal” is a cat and while many landlords may be familiar with service dogs, particularly as used by visually impaired people, the claim by a tenant that a cat is a service animal may seem like a stretch and not be taken serious by a landlord but this case proves that it needs to be taken seriously.

Read the entire case here – The Secretary, United States Department of Housing and Urban Development vs Paul Anderson

Federal Fair Housing Laws and Real Estate Advertising

Some property owners elect to sell or lease out a home or condo without engaging the services of a professional real estate agent or broker without fully understanding all the risk they are taking on.  Granted, being a licensed real estate broker, I’m a little partial here, but I can honestly say that, given all the laws, rules and regulations that pertain to the sale or leasing of residential real estate, as well as the hefty fines, or even criminal charges, that can result in non-compliance, for most owners I would not suggest to go it alone.  One of the more significant risks an owner faces is to violate Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 or, as it is more commonly known, the Fair Housing Act.

The Fair Housing Act, as originally passed, prohibited discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin.  In 1989, it was amended to also prohibit discrimination based on disability or on familial status.  While I believe the number of people that deliberately violate this act is small, I see many “accidental” or unintentional violations of it on a regular basis not only by private homeowners or landlords but even by licensed real estate professionals.  The most common form of violation I see has to do with advertising residential property for sale or lease and then often as a result of a choice of words.

The reason so many violations occur in advertising I believe is that it is easy to make an honest mistake in this area without realizing you are violating the Fair Housing Act.  For example, if your home has a large, level rear yard that is fenced, has a large sandbox and one of those fancy monster-sized playground sets, you do NOT have a “good yard for kids” or at least you cannot advertise it that way as it could be taken to be a preference with regard to familial status.  Get the picture?  Yes, it’s like a minefield out there and all I’m talking about here is advertising.  This is such an easy area to make an innocent, but still a potentially costly mistake in that I made a short, 2-minute video for real estate agents with “Do’s and Don’ts” of advertising under the Fair Housing Act.  The video is below for all you owners that decide you want to try it on your own or, perhaps, want a better understanding of why your agent cannot promote or advertise your home in a particular way that you feel is significant, such as by telling everyone about the great yard for kids or the parish you are in, that your home is within a short walk to a temple, etc.

 

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Fair Housing

mlkToday, as we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., it is hard for me to believe that, during my lifetime, there was a time when it was legal to refuse to rent or sell a house to someone because of their race or skin color, but it was.  However, the  Civil Rights Act of 1968, also referred to as the “Fair Housing Act of 1968”, which was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson, just one week after Dr. King’s assassination, corrected this atrocity and made it illegal to refuse to rent or lease a home to someone based upon their race.

Peace Park Sign - otis woodard - dr martin luther kingI know we have a long way to go and there may never come the time that discrimination does not exist in one form or another, but I am thankful for Dr. King and that he was willing to sacrifice his life to make life better for others.  While I was just 7 years old when Dr. King was assassinated and only knew of him through Continue reading “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Fair Housing

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered

Four years ago on the day we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I wrote the article below on a personal blog. This morning while doing some research on Dr. King I ran across this article which I had almost forgotten I had written, read it and decided even though some of the data in it is a little dated with regard to current events, it is worthy of publishing again to pay honor to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Reprinted from January 19, 2009…

mlk

Today we celebrate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the very influential, prominent leader and icon of the American Civil Rights movement.

One of the most important accomplishments of Dr King and the Civil Rights movement was the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which was signed into law on July 2, 1964, and prohibited discrimination in public places, provided for integration of schools and made employment discrimination illegal. It did not, however, make discrimination in housing illegal which Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement continued to work toward.

Finally, on April 11, 1968 discrimination in housing became illegal when Continue reading “Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. remembered

Majority of Housing Discrimination Complaints are filed based on disability

st-louis-realtor-dennis-norman-federal-fair-housing-disability-discriminationOver forty years ago Congress passed Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 known as “The Fair Housing Act“. This act prohibits discrimination in public and private housing markets that is based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status. At that time, the most common type of discrimination in housing was based upon race or color. Today, according to a recent report by HUD, the majority of housing discrimination complaints filed are based on disability discrimination. Continue reading “Majority of Housing Discrimination Complaints are filed based on disability

Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit in Rolla, Missouri

WASHINGTON – The Justice Department today announced that Roger Harris, Hediger Enterprises Inc., Carroll Management Group, Forum Manor Associates L.P. and Forum Manor LLC have agreed to pay $295,000 in monetary damages and civil penalties to resolve a Fair Housing Act lawsuit alleging sexual harassment, race and sex discrimination, retaliation and intimidation at Forum Manor Apartments, a federally-subsidized apartment complex in Rolla, Missouri. Continue reading “Justice Department Settles Housing Discrimination Lawsuit in Rolla, Missouri

EHOC Files Fair Housing Complaints Against 14 Senior Housing Providers in St. Louis area

ehoc equal housing opportunity commission

As a result of its recent report on senior housing, EHOC announced on September 23, 2009, that it was filing 14 fair housing complaints against senior housing providers in the St. Loius area with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Complaints are being filed against the following senior communities in St. Louis County: Brentmoor Retirement Community; Mari De Villa; Pacific Place; The Fountains of West County; McKnight Place Assisted Living; National Healthcare Corporation (which has facilities in both St. Louis County and St. Charles County); The Rockwood; and Tesson Heights. Complaints were filed against the following St. Charles County communities: Twin Oaks Estate; Fairwinds at River’s Edge, National Healthcare Corporation (which has facilities in St. Louis County and St. Charles County), Park Place at Winghaven and Heritage of Hawk Ridge. EHOC also is filing complaints against several Illinois communities: The Fountains Communities (which includes The Bridges of Columbia and The Fountains of Granite City only) and Sycamore Village. Continue reading “EHOC Files Fair Housing Complaints Against 14 Senior Housing Providers in St. Louis area