After Almost Six Decades Black Americans are Still Looking for the 'Fairness' in the Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act (FHA) of 1968 was officially signed into law on April 11, 1968, exactly one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Then-president Lyndon B Johnson, used the tragedy of King’s murder to expedite the process of getting the bill passed as King was an integral part of lobbying for fair housing legislation.

The intent of the FHA was to prohibit discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, (and as amended) handicap and family status. But America being America, home to tens of thousands of unscrupulous and bigoted landowners, found a myriad of ways to work around the act and continue to subjugate would-be homeowners and renters, specifically would-be Black homeowners and renters.

Homeownership is considered a primary driver of wealth generation as home equity usually appreciates in value. Homeowners can benefit from tax deductions on the interest and property tax of their mortgage and often enjoy increased credit scores as having a mortgage is considered “good debt.” If necessary, homeowning parents of college students have the option to borrow against their home equity loan to pay for college tuition at a lower interest rate than most any other loan option.

But despite all of these life-altering incentives to homeownership, Black Americans saw a homeownership rate of 46.4 percent compared to 78.5 percent of white Americans in a Census report from the third quarter of 2020.

Now, if the idea of Black folks owning beautiful homes across the U.S. seems too threatening to systemic racism, surely some grace would be shown to Black folks just trying to find a decent place to rent, right? Not exactly.

Newly minted Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, Rep. Marcia L. Fudge, the first Black woman to head up the department in decades and only the second one in history to do so, is currently lobbying the Senate to boost funding for housing programs to support millions of Americans who have lost their housing amid the coronavirus pandemic. A dilemma that has disproportionately impacted Black and Brown renters that fell on hard times financially during the crisis.

After almost six decades from the original signing of the Fair Housing Act, the federal government is still tinkering with best practices to ensure that Black Americans have adequate housing, or at its most villainous constructing discriminatory policies to make it harder for Black folks to be able to lay our heads somewhere safe and equitable. Which is a persistent cold reality that continues to make Black housewarmings that much more difficult to plan for.

About the Author

Donney Rose is a poet, essayist, Kennedy Center Citizen Artist Fellow, advocate, and Chief Content Editor at The North Star. He believes in telling how it is and how it should be

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