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Why is April National Fair Housing Month?

Apr 22, 2024 | General, News

This year marks the 56th Anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the landmark civil rights law signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968, that made discrimination in housing transactions unlawful. Today, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing because of race, color, national origin, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), disability, and familial status We observe National Fair Housing month each April to recognize and celebrate the advancements of Equal Housing Access and to take meaningful action in furthering the Fair Housing Act’s intentions to overcome patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, eliminate disparities in opportunities, and foster inclusive communities free from discrimination.

Why is the Fair Housing Act so important? For much of the 19th and well into the 20th centuries, government at all levels, along with private developers and lending institutions, played an active role in creating segregated living patterns and restricted access to opportunities. The federal government forcibly removed Native Americans from their homelands, restricted federally insured mortgages on the basis of race (a practice known as “redlining”), and used “slum clearance” and “urban renewal” programs to demolish neighborhoods for infrastructure projects that largely benefitted white middle class Americans at a significant cost to black communities, indigenous communities, and other communities of color. Private housing developers used racially restrictive covenants that sustained segregation and restricted access to homeownership and other housing opportunities for communities of color, among many other forms of discrimination. 

While prohibiting discrimination in housing was an important milestone, we continue to live with inequities that were created and perpetuated by these discriminatory practices today. More than 55 years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, the homeownership gap between white and black households remains roughly the same as it was in 1968. This homeownership gap is the most significant contributing factor to the wealth gap between white and black households today.

MHO was founded with the purpose of serving low-income earning communities and those who have been marginalized by unfair housing practices. MHO develops affordable rental and homeownership communities in high opportunity neighborhoods, with access to jobs, quality schools, transportation, health services, and grocery stores nearby. Our Homeownership programs serve first-time homebuyers who earn 80% or less of the Area Median Income (AMI), helping more families achieve their dream of owning a home. Our Essential Home Repair program serves clients at or below 50% AMI with health-and safety-related repairs. These essential repairs protect the homeowners’ largest financial asset–their home– and help prevent displacement and housing instability. MHO’s affordable apartments primarily serve residents at or below 60% AMI. Residents pay no more than 30% of their gross monthly income on rent, helping to ensure they don’t become housing cost-burdened while living in thriving communities. Explore MHO’s Affordable Housing Services and learn more about how you can get involved today!

Want to dive deeper? Check out this list of Fair Housing book recommendations.

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