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

A Diverse Group of Orange Renters in a Circle Looking Down at the CameraIn the late 1960s, America was in a state of trouble and utter upheaval. The Civil Rights Movement was at its maximum level, 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 restricted discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It was a great victory for the Civil Rights Movement, and it certainly changed for the better 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 struggle for equality that was carried out across the country. That act banished discrimination in public places but did not take into account nor address discrimination in housing. This left lots of black Americans in bad 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.”

Knowing 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 quickly disallow 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 effectively addressed housing inequality by making it illegal to discriminate against renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It similarly drafted the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), which works to stop 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 rapid and far-ranging. It opened up previously segregated neighborhoods to minorities. It additionally made it hassle-free for families of all income levels to get safe and affordable housing. The act has been known for 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 existing, new amendment, passed in 1988, expanded the definition of “family” to include unmarried couples and people with disabilities. It also certainly strengthened the enforcement provisions of the act.

The Fair Housing Act and You

The Fair Housing Act is one of the most relevant pieces of legislation in American history. It has helped produce 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 imperative to identify your rights under the Fair Housing Act. A few of the rights that the Fair Housing Act protects include:

  • The right to choose a housing option without discrimination
  • The right to settle in a safe and delightful housing environment
  • The right to fair treatment during the entire housing search process
  • The right to not be refused to house based on your income

If you believe you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a complaint with HUD under the FHEO. You can likewise talk to a fair housing organization in your area for help in your situation.


To best protect your rights, it’s equally significant to work with landlords and property managers who know and follow fair housing laws. Real Property Management Caliber has a long history of commitment to fair housing. Browse our listings online to find top-tier, quality rental homes in Orange.

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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