Fair housing refers specifically to the Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act. It was enacted by Congress to ensure fair housing opportunities for all citizens.
An underlying goal of the Fair Housing Act is to provide all citizens with equal access not just to housing, but to infrastructure like sidewalks and transportation, education and employment opportunities, and amenities like parks and grocery stores.
Fair housing law applies to people that fall into what are known as ‘protected classes.’ At the federal level, fair housing protects the following classes: race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status, and disability. States and local governments can extend the protections of fair housing to additional classes. For example, the State of Oregon also protects marital status, source of income, sexual orientation (including gender identity), honorably discharged veterans/military status, and victims of domestic violence.
Fair housing is not about ensuring affordable housing opportunities for all, but it is closely tied to it. There is a clear correlation between protected classes and the demographics of poverty in our country. Thus the enforcement of fair housing law may help to alleviate discrimination that contributes to poverty and its concentration.
Historically, fair housing has dealt with explicitly intended discrimination. However, many policies or programs may not be discriminatory or harmful to protected classes in their intent, but may be in their effects. For this reason, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has begun to look at ‘disparate impact,’ that is if policies or actions have a statistically significant adverse impact on protected class households.
Housing Land Advocates is committed to educating the public as well as local government bodies about the Fair Housing laws, and to vigilantly advocate for enforcement, to ensure equal and fair housing opportunities for all Oregonians.
FAIR HOUSING ARTICLES
FOR MORE INFORMATION
- Read HLA’s letter regarding HUD’s Disparate Impact proposal
- Read HLA’s letter regarding Metro’s fair housing obligations
- View an amicus curiae brief to the U.S. Supreme Court, signed by the Oregon Attorney General, regarding Disparate Impact in Fair Housing.
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