Oregon REALTORS® Host Annual Fair Housing Summit

Oregon REALTORS® Host Annual Fair Housing Summit

April 2024

Oregon Fair Housing SummitFor three years now, Oregon REALTORS® has been inviting its members throughout the state on a deep dive into fair housing issues, hosting an annual virtual fair housing summit that counts for three hours of Continuing Education.  In 2022, the keynote speaker was Richard Rothstein, presenting The Color of Law; in 2023, he returned with his daughter, Leah Rothstein, to discuss their new book, Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law.  The programs have been wildly popular and are strengthening the REALTORS’ relationships with the local affinity organizations and other groups, as well as bringing greater understanding to members.  Fair Housing Grants from the REALTOR® Party have helped make the summits possible.

In 2023, the program explored the history and evolving demographics of the state of Oregon, as well as the history of housing access.  NAR’s Deputy Chief Economist and VP of Research Jessica Lautz made the case that following fair housing practices, besides being the law of the land, is good for business.  A panel of representatives from NAREB, AAREA, NAHREP, and the LGTBQ+ Alliance discussed fair housing best practices, and other sessions focused on the state’s fair housing legislation and how to report fair housing violations.  Members of the multicultural affinity organizations, together with the Fair Housing Council of Oregon and Oregon REALTORS®’ Diversity Key Committee, also helped to facilitate break-out ‘rooms’ for smaller group discussions.

LaTasha Beal, the association’s 2023 Diversity Key Committee Chair, notes that the presentation by the Rothsteins, which built on the previous year’s discussion of The Color of Law, was especially compelling: “It’s great to talk about how we got here, but it was also important to look forward and ask ourselves how do we start to make progress in these towns, cities, and states where the homeownership opportunities are still suffering?”  She notes that Oregon REALTORS®’ current Diversity Key Committee is now sponsoring a book club reading of Just Action: How to Challenge Segregation Enacted Under the Color of Law.

“We’ve been able to build and deepen the content of the Fair Housing Summits year after year,” says Beal.  “Most recently, we have invited REALTORS® and clients with disabilities to present their viewpoints and have their voices heard, and these perspectives bring so much value to the discussion of fair housing.  I am also reminded how important it is to treat everyone fairly, our membership and the public, and seek to understand their needs so that we can represent and serve them as best we can.”

She continues, “To remind our members of their commitment to fair housing, we provide them with resources and information, right down to equipping agents with practical scripts to combat open-ended questions like, ‘Tell me about your buyer…’  I believe Oregon REALTORS®’ continual focus on fair housing education is helping our members realize and acknowledge discriminatory behavior that has been normalized in the real estate industry over the years – and to combat it when they see it.”

Feedback from the 2023 Fair Housing Summit’s 240 participants was overwhelmingly positive, and the 2024 Fair Housing Summit, which focused on programs, agencies, resources and expertise available to the state’s REALTORS®, continued the strong tradition of Oregon REALTORS®’ commitment to fair housing – and fair housing education.

To learn more about how Oregon REALTORS® is engaging its membership in gaining a deeper understanding of fair housing issues, contact the association’s 2023 Diversity Key Committee Chair LaTasha Beal at labeal@kw.com; or Erica Curry, Education & Diversity Director, at diversity@oregonrealtors.org or 503.587.8983.

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