Changes in Housing Practices over the Last 50 Years

There have been a lot of changes in housing since the 1960s, the advent of the fair housing act, and since Dr. King spoke at the NAREB.

Prior to the 1960s

Prior to the 1960s and desegregation, it was very common for African Americans and other minorities to be discriminated against. This was with regards of acquiring fair and equal housing at an affordable rate. They were often relegated to poor living conditions that were substandard and in bad neighborhoods. This was largely because of the color of their skin.

But the Fair Housing Act has made a lot of changes come about. Things have improved a lot for most people.  Discrimination has and will always be there, but overly, there has been significant changes.

Fair Housing Act Effectiveness

The FHA effectively made it illegal for landlords and tenants to discriminate on the grounds of color, gender or any other factor. Thanks to recent events and the legalization of same sex marriage, this protection extends to them as well.  It also covers persons with disabilities, and even extends to any reasonable accommodations they might need in order to have reasonable access to a home.

While the Fair Housing Act did not fix all the problems that existed at the time, and it did not completely eradicate the discrimination that may have existed at the time, it laid the groundwork for people to be able to have an avenue for recourse if discrimination existed.

Another form of discrimination that would occur at the time, other than landlords, flat out  refusing to rent or sell to persons of color was that they would significantly increase the cost of a property to make it out of reach to minorities.  The Fair Housing Act also made this practice illegal.

Unfortunately, we still find that most people of African American descent and other minorities are still found in larger cities and low income areas, so there is still work to be done.  While a lot of improvements have been made, we still have a long way to go before we will reach a state of true equality.

It is true that there’s an equal playing ground in some of the largely populated areas, more of the suburbs or rural areas do seem to be a little bit out of reach for particular groups of people.

This lends the question of whether there are improvements that could be made to the FHA, which could improve the conditions and level the playing field even more? If yes, these improvements would bring about a fair distribution in the housing policy.

For more than 50 years, we have come a long way, many improvements have been made in this regard.  The availability of affordable housing has expanded significantly and more people have achieved their dream of home ownership, or even being able to move out of poor and substandard housing areas and into more affordable housing.  But is this enough? Is that all that needs to be done, or is there more to do?

It’s been 50 years since Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968, a landmark law passed in the aftermath of Martin Luther King’s assassination that banned discriminatory practices in housing. The fact is that even now, there are still a fair number of pockets of substandard housing that exist in America, and many families are stuck living in those substandard housing areas because it is all that they can afford. Perhaps that will be our next area of improvement.