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The History of the Fair Housing Act: How it Changed the Face of American Living

A Diverse Group of Oyster Bay Renters in a Circle Looking Down at the CameraIn the late 1960s, America was in a state of commotion. The Civil Rights Movement was at its height, and people were fighting for equality across all walks of life. This included the right to fair housing. On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law. This act forbade discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It was a big win for the Civil Rights Movement, and it transformed the face of American living forever. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of the Fair Housing Act and its effects on American renters.

Civil Rights and Fair Housing

The Fair Housing Act was a direct response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the intense fight for equality that was ongoing across the country. That act forbid discrimination in public places but sadly did not give consideration to or do anything about discrimination in housing. This left various black Americans living in below-par housing conditions. The Kerner Commission, studying the civil disorders and causes of riots in US Cities in 1967, wrote, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

Realizing that the federal government had a responsibility to address housing inequality, Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts and Representative John Conyers of Michigan sponsored an act that would seriously forbid housing discrimination. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The Fair Housing Act was passed by Congress on April 11, 1968, and was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on the same day.

The Fair Housing Act regarded and addressed housing inequality by making it illegal to discriminate against renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It likewise formed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), which works to get rid of housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities.  FHEO is also responsible for enforcing the act.

The Impact of Fair Housing

The effects of the Fair Housing Act were abrupt and sweeping. It opened up previously segregated neighborhoods to minorities. It, moreover, made it trouble-free for families of all income levels to get safe and affordable housing. The act has been acknowledged as reducing poverty and improving educational outcomes for children living in low-income households.

The Fair Housing Act has been amended several times since it was first passed. The most updated amendment, passed in 1988, expanded the definition of “family” to include unmarried couples and people with disabilities. It also clearly strengthened the enforcement provisions of the act.

The Fair Housing Act and You

The Fair Housing Act is one of the most essential pieces of legislation in American history. It has helped fashion a more equal and just society by guaranteeing everyone has access to safe and affordable housing. If you’re a renter in the United States, it’s significant to learn your rights under the Fair Housing Act. Various rights the Fair Housing Act protects comprise:

  • The right to choose a housing option without discrimination
  • The right to rest and live in a safe and decently nice housing environment
  • The right to fair treatment throughout the housing search process
  • The right to not be declined housing based on your income

If you deem like you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a complaint with HUD under the FHEO. You can similarly call a fair housing organization in your area for assistance.


To best protect your rights, it’s furthermore imperative to work with landlords and property managers who are familiar with and follow fair housing laws. Real Property Management Unlimited has a long history of commitment to fair housing. Browse our listings online to look for prime, quality rental homes in Oyster Bay.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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