Who could resist a presentation called “Am I A Jerk at Work?” With the help of the Fair Housing Grant program from the REALTOR® Party, the state associations of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania brought national speakers to their annual convention in Atlantic City to explore that question, and many more aspects of fair housing.
With a combined total membership of over 150,000 real estate professionals, and a shared commitment to fair housing and DEI education, the REALTOR® associations of New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey have an ideal opportunity to promote these values at their annual Triple Play REALTORS® Convention in Atlantic City. After a year off in 2020, the return event in December 2021 was especially robust, featuring fair housing courses offered on every day of the event, including a full day of fair housing classes and a powerful presentation by Bill Dedman, member of the investigative team that produced the Newsday exposé on racial steering. The events were supported by the Fair Housing Grant program from the REALTOR® Party, and elevated the issues to an all-time high.
Kim Shindle, Vice President of Communications for the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®, secured the grant that helped to fund the 2021 roster of classes: “Feeling the Love: Fair Housing and Buyer Love Letters” by Cheryl Knowlton; “Fair Housing Legacy to Liberty” and “Stay Inside Fair Housing Laws to Stay Out of Jail” by Randy Templeman; “Fair Housing Made Relevant” by Monica Neubauer; “Am I a Jerk at Work?” by Staci Bernal; “Secrets of Embracing DEI” by Robert Morris; and “Do the Right Thing! The Code of Ethics and Fair Housing” by Paul Monthofer. “The continual goal of the three associations is to bring members the information they need to do business every day, and fair housing has been the focus of our tri-state educational collaboration since 2017, when we were looking ahead to the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act,” she explains. The three state associations share tasks and coordinate responsibilities for planning the annual convention – a massive undertaking – and they all have input developing the programming and choosing the speakers, who are selected from responses to a call for proposals based on the convention committee’s guidelines. The real estate commissions of New York and New Jersey already required fair housing continuing education, and the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS® successfully advocated its state real estate commission to require it, as well, during the 2020-2022 education cycle. In total, nine courses focusing on fair housing qualified for CE credit.
The New Jersey Association received that grant that brought Bill Dedman to the Triple Play convention. Teresa Tilton, the association’s Director of Professional Services, says she took careful notes on his program, especially on the questions from the very engaged participants. “This is such an important issue to our members, not just as real estate professionals but as residents and neighbors, and they were asking loud and clear what they could do about it. Our role is to devise programming to address those needs and help REALTORS® become the solution to the fair housing problems that have come to light.”
She can’t stress enough the benefit of working in partnerships, whether with fellow boards and neighboring states, or non-related organizations that share your values. “The Triple Play convention and what it accomplishes is so much more than the sum of its parts,” she says. “Although it takes place on our home turf, the combined idea-power and reach of the partnership is what makes it such a success year after year.”
Shindle encourages fellow boards, large and small, to look to the REALTOR® Party for materials and assistance in tackling fair housing issues. “NAR has done a phenomenal job creating new resources for boards and their members to learn about fair housing. There are grants at different levels, and the application process is very user-friendly. There are also great ideas and examples on the REALTOR® Party website; it behooves us to take advantage of what they’re offering to expand opportunities for – and knowledge about –diversity, equity, inclusion, and fair housing.”
To learn more about how the REALTOR® organizations of New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania work together to maximize the reach and impact of their fair housing efforts, contact Kim Shindle, Vice President of Communications for the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®, at email@example.com or 800.555.3390, or Teresa Tilton, Director of Professional Services for the New Jersey REALTORS®, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 609.341.7118.