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

A Diverse Group of Key Largo Renters in a Circle Looking Down at the CameraIn the late 1960s, America was in a state of disorganization and upheaval. The Civil Rights Movement was at its strongest, 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 prohibited discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It was a great triumph for the Civil Rights Movement, and it successfully reformed 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 battle for equality that was rolling out across the country. That act strictly prohibited discrimination in public places although it did not address discrimination in housing. This left a lot of black Americans dwelling in second-rate, sad 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.”

Identifying 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 promptly prohibit 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 handled and addressed housing inequality by making it illegal to discriminate against renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It, in like manner, formed the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), which works to successfully avoid 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 swift and wide-reaching. It opened up previously segregated neighborhoods to minorities. It furthermore made it easy and manageable for families of all income levels to obtain safe and affordable housing. The act has been recognized as reducing poverty and improving educational outcomes for children occupying and living in low-income households.

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

The Fair Housing Act and You

The Fair Housing Act is one of the most critical pieces of legislation in American history. It has helped design a more equal and just society by making sure everyone has access to safe and affordable housing. If you’re a renter in the United States, it’s necessary to grasp well your rights under the Fair Housing Act. Some of the rights protected by the Fair Housing Act are the following:

  • The right to choose a housing option without discrimination
  • The right to dwell in a safe and more than acceptable housing environment
  • The right to fair treatment in the course of the housing search process
  • The right to not be rejected for housing based on your income

If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against, you can certainly file a complaint with HUD under the FHEO. You can further get in touch with a fair housing organization in your area for help and assistance.


To best protect your rights, it’s similarly crucial to work with landlords and property managers who certainly understand and follow fair housing laws. Real Property Management Allegiance has a long history of commitment to fair housing. Browse our listings online to find splendid, quality rental homes in Key Largo.

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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