FAIR HOUSING MAKES US STRONGER
Fair Housing is an essential part of the real estate industry. Our social fabric and economy are better off when everyone has a chance to live and work together.
fair housing in california
IN A WORD
The Struggle for Fair Housing in California
Throughout the 20th century, housing discrimination in California was pervasive, particularly against people of color. The fight for fair housing and civil rights was a central issue for activists and advocates.
The Rumford Fair Housing Act
In 1963, California passed the Rumford Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, and ancestry. This landmark law was a major step forward in the fight for fair housing.
Unfortunately, the gains made by the Rumford Act were short-lived. In 1964, California voters approved Proposition 14, which repealed the Rumford Act and allowed property owners to discriminate on the basis of race. The passage of Proposition 14 was a major setback for fair housing advocates.
The Overturning of Proposition 14
Despite the passage of Proposition 14, fair housing advocates did not give up. In 1966, the United States Supreme Court declared Proposition 14 unconstitutional, paving the way for the reinstatement of the Rumford Act.
The California Fair Housing Act
In 1968, the California Fair Housing Act was signed into law. This comprehensive law prohibited discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, and disability. The California Fair Housing Act has since been expanded to include protections for sexual orientation and source of income.
The Ongoing Fight for Fair Housing
Despite the legal protections provided by the California Fair Housing Act, housing discrimination continues to be a problem in California. Advocates continue to work towards ensuring that all Californians have access to safe, affordable housing and are treated fairly and equally in the housing market.
VCCAR DEI Committee members pictured from left: Julio Gomez, DEI Chair – Melissa Hunter, and Bridget Goncalves
After attending the Fair Housing Event, I feel empowered to eliminate biased opinions in the real estate process and work towards making homeownership accessible to all Californians. The critical conversations and insights shared by the panelists and speakers were eye-opening and inspiring. I am grateful to have been a part of such an important event.
Breaking Barriers in Real Estate: C.A.R. Collaborates with Top Experts to Tackle Fair Housing Issues
On April 11th, the California Association of REALTORS® (CAR) held its 2nd Annual Fair Housing Event in West Hollywood. The Ventura County Coastal Association of REALTORS® (VCCAR) DEI Committee was among the attendees, who came together to discuss ways to eliminate biased opinions in the real estate process.
Panel Discussions on a Range of Topics
The event featured panelists who spoke on various topics related to fair housing, including rental discrimination, appraisal bias, and homelessness in Los Angeles. Attendees had the opportunity to collaborate and discuss eliminating biased opinions in the real estate process. The panel discussions allowed for critical conversations about making the dream of homeownership a reality for more Californians.
Top Experts in the Industry
Julian Glover, an Emmy and Murrow award-winning reporter with ABC7 News in the Bay Area and Executive Producer of the documentary “Lowballed,” also gave a presentation on Appraisal Bias.
Hot Fair Housing Topics
The Fair Housing Day was an exciting opportunity to learn from innovators, researchers, advocates, and policy experts on fair housing issues. The event included critical conversations about how to make the dream of homeownership a reality for more Californians, focusing on topics like appraisal bias, discrimination in rental housing, and inclusive advertising.
Overall, the 2nd Annual Fair Housing Event hosted by CAR was a great success. It allowed REALTORS® and experts to discuss critical issues and collaborate on solutions. With the input and knowledge shared by these experts, attendees left with a greater understanding of fair housing issues and how to tackle them, ultimately making the dream of homeownership a reality for more Californians.
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Our country’s vibrant mix of cultures is what makes us great and gives us strength. It makes us who we are.
Frank Williams, REALTOR®
“As a black American, a REALTOR®, and a parent, I am determined to help erase discrimination from the housing landscape.”
Frank Williams has witnessed a lot in nearly 80 years. After growing up in Flint, Michigan — and being expelled from high school for dating the white girl he later married — he moved to Chicago in 1962. Despite having never considered real estate a career because, “as a young black man, we didn’t see many people in our community in positions of power,” he received his real estate license in 1966 and opened his own firm in 1969. His practice faced immediate resistance to helping African Americans find homes in historically white neighborhoods. In 1971 demonstrators entered his office to demand who he could sell to, and in 1975, his home was firebombed. Overcoming these obstacles, he ascended to president of the Chicago chapter of the NAACP, president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS®, and was voted REALTOR® of the Year. “As a black American, a REALTOR®, and a parent, I am determined to help erase discrimination from the housing landscape.”
Pat Combs, REALTOR®
“We need to ask ourselves “what we can do as REALTORS®, as United States citizens.”
It’s not just a black and white issue. Pat Combs entered the real estate business a few years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968. She recalled it being a “contentious time” for both REALTORS® and the public. Armed with fair housing training from the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION of REALTORS®, Pat faced off against discriminatory neighbors and homeowners. Ignoring verbal harassment and physical threats, she devoted her time in the Grand Rapids Association of REALTORS® to help in creating better training programs in partnership with her local Fair Housing Center to ensure that fair housing truly was for all. Now, Pat says, “We need to ask ourselves “what we can do as REALTORS®, as United States citizens.”
Become a Fair Housing Expert
Innovative, engaging fair housing training grounded in storytelling and experiential learning to help you identify, prevent and address discriminatory practices in real estate.
The History of Fair Housing in California
The history of fair housing in California has been shaped by a long and complex struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity. Discrimination in housing was pervasive in California in the 20th century, particularly against people of color. It was only through sustained activism and legal action that fair housing laws were established.
One of California’s first significant legal challenges to housing discrimination occurred in the 1940s and 1950s when African American families sought to purchase homes in San Francisco. Real estate agents and homeowners associations often refused to sell to black buyers, citing “racial covenants” in property deeds that prohibited the sale of homes to non-whites. The Supreme Court struck down such covenants in 1948 in Shelley v. Kraemer, but housing discrimination persisted.
In the 1960s, civil rights activists in California began to push for more comprehensive fair housing laws. In 1963, the California Legislature passed the Rumford Fair Housing Act, which prohibited housing discrimination based on race, religion, national origin, and ancestry. However, the law was challenged in a ballot initiative known as Proposition 14, which sought to overturn it. Proposition 14 was passed by California voters in 1964. Still, the U.S. Supreme Court later struck it down as unconstitutional in the case of Reitman v. Mulkey in 1967.
Following the Reitman decision, the California Legislature passed a new fair housing law in 1968, the California Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability. The law was strengthened in 1980 with additional protections for sexual orientation and source of income.
In addition to these state laws, local governments in California have also implemented fair housing policies. Many cities and counties have adopted source of income protections, prohibiting discrimination against renters who use housing vouchers or other government assistance to pay for rent. Some local governments have also adopted inclusionary zoning policies, which require developers to set aside a portion of new housing units for low-income households.
Despite these legal protections, housing discrimination remains a problem in California. A 2018 National Fair Housing Alliance study found that California had the highest number of fair housing complaints in the country. Discrimination against people with disabilities and families with children was among the most common complaints.
In conclusion, the history of fair housing in California has been a long and arduous struggle for civil rights and equal opportunity. While significant progress has been made, there is still work to ensure that all Californians have access to safe, affordable, and discrimination-free housing.