April is Fair Housing Month. As stewards of the right to own, use, and transfer private property, REALTORS® understand that fair housing protects the real estate industry and our businesses. We depend on a free, open market that embraces equal opportunity. In short, fair housing makes us stronger. This year, we will commemorate this important and historic milestone by highlighting four key issue areas that will set the tone for the future of fair housing.
On March 13, 2019, Rep. David Cicillini (D-PA) introduced HR 5, the Equality Act, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Equality Act would amend the Fair Housing Act to provide protections for LGBTQ people in key areas of life, such as housing, employment, credit, public accommodations, and voting rights, and is aligned to NAR’s Code of Ethics. As we monitor this bill through the legislative process, we will continue to express our support. If the bill passes, we will work to address our policy issues as any regulations implementing it are developed.
We’ll also continue to work with and support our multicultural partners — the National Association for Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AREAA), and the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB) — to address immigration housing rights, improving language access to financial materials, and gaps in African-American homeownership.
Don’t forget there are only four days until Tax Day! This is the first filing season that the impact of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act will be seen as you are preparing your tax returns. If you still haven’t filed, we encourage you to review What REALTORS® Need to Know About the New Tax Law. There you’ll find helpful videos and other resources available to you. And as always, consult a tax professional if you have more detailed questions.
During Sara Walsh’s term as president of Columbus REALTORS® President, she knew she wanted to focus on Fair Housing. With the support of a REALTOR® Party Diversity Grant, not only did the 8,000-member association facilitate two successful diversity awareness programs, it strengthened relationships with local minority real estate professional boards, and established a standing Diversity & Inclusion Committee.
Though Columbus is a dynamic and growing city with a robust economy and admirable diversity, says Columbus REALTORS® Director of Development Ida Seitter, regrettably, it also remains largely segregated by race. With this in mind, the REALTORS®’ Fair Housing Task Force determined that its goal would be to educate members and industry colleagues about ongoing cultural bias and discrimination in the housing market. For months, it worked with the local chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (the Columbus Realtists) and the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals (NAGLREP) on two separate events held last fall: a Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) workshop; and an original dramatic program that it called “Thirst for Equality,” based on a real legal case involving water discrimination. Both projects are expected to grow and have an impact beyond the initial anniversary-year events.
Fair Housing Task Force member Buzz Thomas spearheaded the group’s hosting of the Cost of Poverty Experience, a program offering participants an interactive glimpse into the lives of low-income individuals and families living in the local community. For this pilot program, the REALTORS® and their Realtist and NAGLREP colleagues invited core leadership, committee chairs, and local area realty presidents, about 60 in all, to participate in the simulation. “The goal of COPE is to immerse attendees in the lives of those facing poverty and housing insecurity, giving them a peek into these daily challenges, and overcoming biases they might not realize they have,” says Walsh, adding, “The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, and we believe that attendees walked away with tools they can use in their business and personal lives.”
The cost of the program was offset by a REALTOR® Party Diversity Grant, which also covered the fee for Thomas to become a trained facilitator, an asset that Seitter points out will significantly lower expenses as the Task Force works to develop the curriculum to focus more specifically on real estate issues, and offer its own COPE program to the general memberships in the future.
“Thirst for Equality,” the dramatization of a legal case, was inspired by a mock trial Rubye Wright, a Fair Housing Task Force member and treasurer of the Columbus Realtists, had attended elsewhere in the state. Researching comparable cases that could be brought to life for the community, the Task Force was uncomfortably surprised to find a local case, Kennedy vs. the City of Zanseville (OH), which had only been settled in 2008. Re-enactors included an Ohio Civil Rights Commission Director; the Franklin County Auditor; and a former Ohio Supreme Court Justice serving as the presiding judge. NAREB, NAGLREP, and Columbus REALTORS® played the part of witnesses and legal defense team. The REALTORS® hired a writer to prepare an engaging script of the trial, telling the story of an African-American community suing for access to public water. “It was a powerful drama, all the more so for being true, and local, and from the not-too-distant past,” says co-host, Columbus Realtist President, Sheree Smoot-Johnson, who points out that a video has been made available for those unable to attend the actual event (see below). To expand the program to the three hours required for Continuing Education credit, a discussion panel took place after the dramatization.
“Our ongoing priority is to provide members with the most innovative tools available to best prepare them to be positive ambassadors in the community,” says Seitter. “This includes programs that encourage members to thin outside the box and view housing holistically; healthy neighborhoods equal higher home values. Ultimately, programs like these help participants recognize and overcome cultural and economic bias, breaking habits we may not even realize exist. By being conscious of biases, Columbus REALTORS® are better positioned to serve their clients and the entire community. We’re especially proud of the bond we’ve formed this year with our colleagues at the Columbus Realtists and NAGLREP, working toward common goals.”
To learn more about how the Columbus REALTORS® are honoring the spirit of the Fair Housing Act well beyond its 50th anniversary, contact Director of Development Ida Seitter at 614-528-1104.
In St. Louis, Missouri, REALTORS® have a profound reminder of past prejudicial real estate practices in the Shelley House, the property at the center of the landmark Supreme Court case of Shelley vs. Kraemer, which gave way to the Fair Housing Act 20 years later. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of that breakthrough legislation, St. Louis REALTORS® engaged into local projects benefiting underserved communities with grants from the REALTOR® Party and Missouri REALTORS®.
“Origins of the Fair Housing Act can be traced back here in St. Louis,” notes Dawn Seabaugh, Director of Communications of the 8,000-member St. Louis REALTORS®, “and it’s crucial to note how it’s helped in strengthening our local communities. Our REALTORS® firmly believe in equal housing opportunity for all,’ Seabaugh said. “This year we aligned our annual community betterment projects in celebration of the 70th Anniversary of the Shelley vs. Kramer case and 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act,” she added. St. Louis REALTORS® sponsored ‘Rebuild Day’ in May, in which REALTORS® helped restore five homes in the community around the Shelley House; and September’s community park project, where members worked for two days to transform a vacant lot into a lush, attractive landscape complete with urban gardens, flower boxes and handicap accessible walk ways.
St. Louis REALTORS® secured permission from the adjacent church that owns the roughly 4,000-square-foot property, and partnered with Rebuilding Together STL, a local non-profit that serves low-income homeowners. St. Louis REALTORS® Foundation, the charitable arm of the association, contributed $25,000 in funding for the project, a collaboration of member donations, a contribution from the association, and a $5,000 grant from Missouri REALTORS®, as well as a $3,000 REALTOR® Party Placemaking Grant. “We’re so fortunate to have the help of our members, NAR, Missouri REALTORS® and Rebuilding Together STL. It takes a great team to accomplish something as great as this park.” says Seabaugh.
The lot is close to an apartment complex for elderly residents and is connected by an alleyway to an existing urban vegetable garden that serves many needs in the area. Prior to the volunteer event, professionals leveled the ground and installed wheelchair-friendly walkways. Over the course of the two-day project, more than 50 REALTORS® and community members came together to assemble umbrellas, build a privacy fence, construct two-level accessible vegetable planters, build picnic tables and benches, and plant trees.
“We are so proud to have been able to help a struggling area of the city,” says Seabaugh. “This park enhances the vitality and attractiveness of the neighborhood, and lifts the spirits and property values for all homeowners and businesses nearby.” She notes that the effort has strengthened the REALTORS®’ relationship with the community and the city, as well: the October 26th ribbon-cutting was attended by the city alderman, the state senator, and the U.S. congressman representing the area. “We are deeply thankful to NAR for its support,” she says. “These grant programs are fabulous and are put to very good use on the local level.”
To learn more about how St. Louis REALTORS® is working to uplift communities around the city, contact Dawn Seabaugh, Director of Communications, at 314-576-0033.
In the heart of state- and county-fair season, an event that put real ‘fun’ in fundraising took place in downtown Dallas, Texas: five diversity organizations across the state’s real estate industry joined together to host “Fair Play for TREPAC,” raising a net total of more than $6,600 in an evening of fair-themed retro-pleasures.
Taylor Walcik, who serves on the Board of Directors of both his local MetroTEX Association and the Texas Association of REALTORS®, as well as TAR’s Professional Standards Committee, spearheaded the fun-filled August 15th event. The concept occurred to him, he explains, in brainstorming ways to honor this year’s 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. “I thought it would be super-cool to get all the local diversity groups together, and recognize this important legislation with a “Fair” theme,” he notes. “What’s more fun than a fair?” Judging from the success of the evening, it’s fair to say he was right.
The hosts he pulled together included local chapters of the Asian Real Estate Association of America (AAREA), the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals (NAHREP), the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the Women’s Council of REALTORS®(WCR), and the Gay and Lesbian Organization of Real Estate (GALORE). It was the first time these groups had been united for a common cause, but Walcik says it won’t be the last: “There’s lots of value in collaborating; we’re all facing different challenges, and sometimes the same challenges, and it makes sense to work together to find solutions by crossing lines. It turns out we work really well together.”
The planning committee timed the event to give REALTORS® one last opportunity to meet their next TREPAC investment level, and many of them rose to the challenge, says Walcik. Admittance was by $85 ticket, which included food and two drinks, and the venue they secured set the tone for the fun-and-games event: Cidercade, a hard cider tasting room crossed with a huge collection of arcade games. Additional TREPAC funds were raised by extra fair-themed activities like Skee Ball, and Hot Shot and NFL Quarterback Toss tournament brackets. Two especially big money-makers were the Dunking Booth, with TREPAC Trustees and local Executive Committee members in the dunk seat; and a Pie Face Rally that generated heated competition for a chance to hit various chapter presidents and directors with an extra-creamy pie: “Anything for TREPAC!” laughs Walcik, as one of the four targets.
TREPAC sponsored the event together with a number of other affiliates and brokerages whose underwriting covered the entire cost of Fair Play for TREPAC, including the food and drink. The impressive spread was catered by a local celebrity chef, who improved on traditional Texas State Fair food with his own elevated versions of fried chicken strips, fried pickles, corn dogs, and stuffed jalapeños. “Good as it was, there was still lots left over, and we donated it to a local homeless shelter,” notes Walcik.
Another special thing about Fair Play for TREPAC, he adds, is that since the 75 event participants were members of different local REALTOR® associations, rather than from a single local board, each investment in TREPAC was credited to the investor’s primary board affiliation. “We had past and current presidents of local REALTOR® associations, TREPAC Trustees, the Chair of TREPAC, diversity organization presidents and directors as well as TAR and NAR directors in attendance. I think that even the dunk-ees and pie-targets would agree it was an amazingly fun night, and we’d absolutely do it again!”
To learn more about how REALTORS® highlighting the diversity of Texas have come together to support TREPAC, contact Taylor Walcik at or 214-901-3736.
Fair Play for TREPAC planning committee: L-R clockwise: Omeshi Owens Roberts (WCR), Chelsea Clayson (WCR & GALORE), Taylor Walcik (GALORE), Clint Gilliam (GALORE), J Rashad Thomas (NAREB), Jed Anantasomboon (AREAA), and Leticia Ramos (NAHREP)
REALTORS® and Federal Political Coordinators Ron Mazier, Sharon Middlebrooks, Erin Brown, and Chandra Patterson join NAR staff for the Congressional Black Caucus' Annual Legislative Conference
The Urban Institute's Alanna McCargo speaks to the crowd at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference
Panelist at NAREB's State of Black Housing in America session the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference
NAREB President Jeffrey Hicks introduces a panel discussion featuring keynote speaker Richard Rosthstein
REALTOR® and Federal Political Coordinator Nykea Pippion McGriff and NAR staffer Victoria Givens attending NAREB's State of Black Housing Event during CBCF's ALC
The Honorable Gregory Meeks, U.S. Representative (NY-5) addresses the crowd at the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation's Annual Legislative Conference
The 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, declining stats in African-American homeownership, gentrification, and creative solutions were top of mind for many of the 10,000 people attending the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 48th Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) in Washington, D.C., including REALTORS® and NAR Advocacy staff.
For years, NAR’s Federal Political Coordinators have used ALC as an opportunity to network with their member of Congress, industry professionals, and other small business owners. These REALTORS® are the voice and the face of real estate to our federal lawmakers, and play a pivotal role in REALTOR® Party outreach. They work closely with members of Congress and the Congressional Black Caucus, along with our D.C.-based lobbyists and regulatory staff to advance mutual goals for the African-American community, while informing policy and educating the public. In past years, NAR are has also joined hundreds of other organizations and businesses to sponsor conference activities and events.
“This year, as we recognize the 50th anniversary the Fair Housing Act, the National Association of REALTORS® remains committed to working with groups like the Congressional Black Caucus and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to advance policies that remove barriers to African-American homeownership in the United States. That includes a collaborative partnership, from both the private and public sectors, to ensure the Fair Housing Act is serving its core purpose as intended by Congress,” National Association of REALTORS® President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation REALTOR® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty, said.
“Not only is Fair Housing integral to the ethical commitment of our members, as outlined in the REALTOR® Code of Ethics, it is critical to our ability to serve our customers, clients and the community. REALTORS® look forward to continuing to work to ensure affordable and sustainable housing opportunities are available for Americans in every corner of this country,” Mendenhall continued.
The impact of civil and social movements over the last 50 years has played a major role in changing the trajectory of American history. This year’s ALC theme, “The Dream Still Demands,” focused on the influence and legacy of these moments, while uplifting present-day champions in the fight for racial equality, justice, and freedom in all arenas, including housing.
REALTOR® Mark Alston, Chairman of the NAREB’s Public Affairs Committee
James H. Carr, Endowed Chair and Professor at Wayne State University
Maurice Jourdan-Earl, Managing Director and Co-Founder, ComplianceTech
Alanna McCargo, Vice President of Housing Finance Policy, Urban Institute
Lisa Rice, President and CEO, National Fair Housing Alliance
Just two years after the Fair Housing Act was passed, African-American homeownership rate was 41.6%. Today, African-American homeownership rate is still 41.6%, the lowest rate among all other racial groups. NAR is committed to working with NAREB, the Urban Institute, and other partners to address barriers to homeownership in the policy arena.
About 56.7 million people or nearly 1 in 5 Americans report having a disability. Claims of disability discrimination make up nearly 55 percent of all fair housing complaints filed with the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This White Paper covers the federal, state, and local laws that protect persons with disabilities. Further, there is a discussion regarding the denial of a request for accommodations in housing. There have been several states adopting legislation to prevent abuse of the right to request an accommodation.
Fair housing is more than just anti-discrimination. It is critical that our society provide opportunities for all people to achieve wellbeing and reach their potential. Differences in access to health care, healthy food, and a clean environment have provided barriers that have disproportionately affected people of color and the poor. In this issue of On Common Ground, we discuss the multiple components that we need to address to achieve social equity — providing the opportunities and pathways to success so that all Americans can prosper.
Fifty years ago, the Fair Housing Act was signed into federal law just seven days after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in the city of Memphis. As both these events are being commemorated around the nation, the Memphis Area Association of REALTORS® (MAAR), mindful of its particular association with them, designed a program to honor Dr. King’s legacy and bring awareness to the importance of the landmark legislation in greater Memphis. Called the MAAR “Day of Unity,” its impact will reach far beyond the powerful day-long event.
Kate Reddan, Events Coordinator of the 3,700-member association, credits an exceptionally passionate and resourceful leadership with the success of the program, and the vision that brought it into being. “Lauren Wiuff, our 2018 President, along with the Board of Directors, wanted the dual-commemoration to be part of their strategic plan, and to be executed in the most educational and inspiring way, in order to have the strongest impact on members and the community.” Working with Cultural Diversity Committee Chair Cassandra Bell-Warren, Fair and Affordable Housing Committee Chair Deborah Williams, and Blight Taskforce Chair Brenda Hampton, with the support and insight of MAAR CEO Melanie Blakeney, Wiuff developed a plan that incorporated a members’ two-mile Freedom Walk to the Lorraine Motel where King was killed; a Fair Housing luncheon, featuring poignant videos of members reminiscing about the passage of the historic act; and a tour of the National Civil Rights Museum.
The program was funded by a REALTOR® Party Diversity Initiative Grant, and just putting the grant application together, notes Reddan, was a moving experience for all involved. Says Wiuff, “The MAAR Day of Unity brought our membership together to commemorate two historical events: the 50thAnniversary of the Fair Housing Act and the 50th Anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The event celebrated, honored, and promoted unity and diversity within our membership and the city of Memphis, where, as REALTORS®, we are committed to embracing those principles every day.”
A few weeks later, with funding from the same grant, MAAR sponsored a highly successful Blight Forum & Fair Housing Fair. Billed as an opportunity to tackle the topic of blight and anti-blight initiatives with a panel of experts, it drew a capacity-crowd of members, who then took part in the fair, which featured representatives from the National Association of Real Estate Brokers (NAREB), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency, the Women’s Council of REALTORS®, Disability Rights Tennessee, Memphis Legal Services, and various lending agencies.
The dedicated members of MAAR aren’t stopping there, says Reddan: the association’s strategic plan for 2018 includes many more activities and events that celebrate diversity, unity, and the fact that “Fair Housing Makes Us Stronger.” In the fall, the committees that have been working on these issues will host a Vision Board event, where members will discuss what they’ve learned and brainstorm ways to carry initiatives forward into 2019.
April 11 marked the 50th anniversary of the signing of the federal Fair Housing Act. This is a momentous occasion for the real estate industry, and a top priority for NAR this year.
The Fair Housing Act helps form the foundation of our business — the right to own property — and our Code of Ethics as REALTORS®. Our commemoration of the Fair Housing Act is vital because it highlights how far we’ve come in promoting equal housing opportunity—both as a society and as an association—and, more importantly, how much work still needs to be done.
It’s been a pleasure to join with our partners and allies for this yearlong commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. We love seeing how engaged our state and local associations have been with proclamations and having Fair Housing themes to their lobby days and conferences. This is only the beginning.
We encourage you to keep up the great work, sharing your Fair Housing stories. At the 2018 REALTORS® Legislative Meetings & Trade Expo, there are several Fair Housing events and resources to check out. Be sure to sign the poster at the Fair Housing Act display in the lobby of the Marriott Wardman Park. Then pick up your 50th Anniversary Fair Housing Act pin on Wednesday, May 16 or Thursday, May 17 at NAR Booth #1707. Join us at NAR 360 on Tuesday, May 16 and the General Session with U.S. Rep. Emmanuel Cleaver on Wednesday to hear how Fair Housing Makes US Stronger.
Visit fairhousing.realtor to join in the commemoration. We look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C.
The REALTOR® Party is a powerful alliance of REALTORS® and REALTOR® Associations working to advance public policies and candidates that build strong communities, protect property interests and promote a vibrant business environment.
Miami REALTORS® Celebrate Mega Success with Mega-Grant Program Pilot
With more than 47,000 members spanning roughly 70 different municipalities, the Miami Association of REALTORS® is the nation’s largest – a distinction that can be unwieldy and impractical when it comes to taking advantage of REALTOR® Party resources. A scaled-up program designed for “mega-boards,” piloted by the Miami REALTORS®, has proven to be a mega-success.
Greater Los Angeles and Southland Regional Association REALTORS® Join Forces to Defeat Parcel Tax
Fresh off a win with a highly publicized teachers’ strike earlier this year, the Los Angeles Unified School District called for a 16-cent/square foot parcel tax on all residential and commercial buildings, claiming that it would support students. But the REALTORS® of the Greater Los Angeles and the Southland Regional Associations begged to differ.
Utah REALTORS® Think Ahead to Prevent Affordable Housing Shortage
The population of Utah is expected to double – yes, double – by the year 2040, and the state is already feeling a housing crunch. With the help of Utah REALTORS® and the support of Issues Mobilization Grants, Utah has found a way to incentivize solutions to its growing shortage rather than strong-arming municipalities with mandates.
Washington REALTORS® Campaign for Affordable Housing Legislation
REALTORS® in Washington state knew that access to affordable housing at all income levels was being hampered by lack of inventory. Using an Issues Mobilization Grant, they’ve convinced lawmakers to tackle challenges ranging from zoning to builder-liability to spur the creation of more housing stock.
Using a Housing Opportunity Grant, the Pacific Southwest Association of REALTORS® has sponsored the development of a website serving as a one-stop resource for those experiencing homelessness – or near-homelessness – in the San Diego area. The project honors the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act.
Advocacy Everywhere Helps DC Association of REALTORS® Keep Property Taxes at Bay
When the D.C. Association of REALTORS® learned on the eve of a budget vote that a City Council member was planning to introduce an “emergency amendment” taxing homes valued at more than $1 million, it dropped everything and called in the REALTOR® Party. A timely Call for Action got a strong message through to council members, and the proposal was shelved – for the time being.
Lincoln REALTORS® Mobilize Voters to Support Roadway Improvements
Many of Lincoln, Nebraska’s streets were in disrepair, some to the point of impassability. Using polling services and an Issues Mobilization grant, local REALTORS® took a leading role in getting them fixed.
Two Local Missouri Associations Help Communities Pass Much-Needed School Bonds
In the spring election season, Southeast Missouri REALTORS® and the Mark Twain Association of REALTORS® both used Issues Mobilization grants to improve neighborhoods by improving school facilities. Through energetic campaigns, they convinced the public to approve ballot initiatives that will fund major school improvements in the coming years.
Mississippi REALTORS® Maximize Returns with RPAC Fundraising Grant
As RPAC celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, Mississippi REALTORS® raises the bar for RPAC investment. During its Winter Meetings this year, the small state association hosted a lively Drawdown and Lip Sync event supported by a REALTOR® Party grant — and collected more than $83,000 for RPAC.
Charlotte REALTORS®Dive Deep into Regional State of Housing
Like so many U.S. urban centers, Charlotte, N.C., is facing an affordable housing crisis. To help housing stakeholders understand the full scope of the complex issue as it affects the whole region, the Charlotte Regional REALTOR® Association used a Housing Opportunity Grant to commission a State of Housing study that analyzed factors like jobs, housing supply, and affordability.
Royal Palm Coast REALTOR® Association Keeps Redundant, Burdensome Zoning at Bay
In the last three years, more than 45 municipalities across Florida have modified their vacation rental ordinances to be more restrictive. In Cape Coral, a seasonal residence for many homeowners, REALTORS® aided by a Land Use Initiative led a successful charge to keep additional restrictions off the books.
Bay East REALTORS® Mobilize on Short Notice to Fight Just-Cause Evictions
With an important rental housing regulation hanging in the balance, the Bay East Association of REALTORS® launched a REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert campaign using the Advocacy Everywhere program, mobilizing more than 175 recipients to contact the City Council in a span of less than 48 hours.With an important rental housing regulation hanging in the balance, the Bay East Association of REALTORS® launched a REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert campaign using the Advocacy Everywhere program, mobilizing more than 175 recipients to contact the City Council in a span of less than 48 hours.
Selkirk REALTORS® Protect Quality of Life in Bonners Ferry
With a series of Smart Growth Action Grants, Selkirk REALTORS® supported a multi-year planning process for an integrated network of pedestrian and bicycle routes in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Complete with graphic branding and signage, the plan will enhance the local active transport scene for residents, and contribute to the region’s growing appeal to bike tourism.
REALTORS® know better than anyone that expanded internet access is the only way to increase economic opportunity and connect communities in rural and underserved areas. Harnessing the power of Advocacy Everywhere, Mississippi REALTORS® rallied voters to support the Mississippi Broadband Enabling Act, which finally permits electric cooperatives to provide broadband services in addition to electric power.
Columbus REALTORS® Joined Forces to Celebrate Fair Housing
Joining forces with colleagues from the local NAREB chapter and the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, Columbus REALTORS® hosted a Cost of Poverty Experience and dramatized a mock trial to highlight issues addressed by the Fair Housing Act that are still at play in their communities.
Successful Florida REALTORS® Campaign Leads to Property Tax Limits on Non-Homestead Properties
In the fourth and final phase of a ten-year effort, the Florida REALTORS® were able to secure a permanent 10% cap on non-homestead property tax through an Issues Mobilization campaign supported by the REALTOR® Party. Had the limit not been approved by voters, 700,000 Florida property owners stood to be hit by a projected $627 million increase in additional property taxes annually.
Arizona REALTORS® Lead the Charge against a Tax on Services
A statewide campaign featuring a superhero named “PAT”, short for Protect Arizona Taxpayers, helped convince Arizona voters to amend the state constitution to prohibit sales taxes on services. Thanks to an Issues Mobilization Grant, the effort was able to achieve its goal in a single bound.
REALTORS® Reverse FEMA Flood Insurance Suspension Within Days of Dubious Shutdown
Bringing its considerable resources, skill, and depth of knowledge to bear on FEMA’s surprising declaration that the National Flood Insurance Program would not be renewed in light of the federal shutdown, the policy team at the National Association of REALTORS® effected a swift reversal of the damaging decision.
Local Maryland Association Takes Bold, Successful Step into Politics
This past election cycle, the Bay Area Association of REALTORS® decided it was time to take a more active role in choosing their politicians. With the help of the REALTOR® Party, it developed a savvy selection committee that interviewed dozens of candidates, endorsed several, and achieved a whopping success rate.
Greenville, S.C., faces significant shortages of affordable housing, and the existing supply is diminishing rapidly. Using a Housing Opportunity Grant, the local REALTORS® co-hosted a Housing Forum to show policy makers how they could break down barriers to developing housing in the essential “missing middle” range.
With Advocacy Everywhere, Illinois REALTORS® Rally Peoria Voters against New “Parcel Tax” on Property Owners
The city of Peoria, Ill., was attempting to bridge a budget gap by imposing a new tax on property owners. With help from the state association, the REALTORS® used Advocacy Everywhere to call voters’ attention to the threat, and encourage calls of opposition to the City Council. Overwhelmed by the volume, the Council agreed to a compromise.
Hawai’i REALTORS® Improve Public Education without Property Tax Surcharges
The REALTORS® of Hawai’i want high quality public education throughout their state, which suffers from extremely high teacher-turnover. This fall, they led the charge against a ballot measure that would allow for the creation of a property tax surcharge on residential investment properties to fund the Department of Education. And then they redoubled their focus on affordable housing.
Greensboro REALTORS® Tackle Additions to City Zoning Code
When a fatal apartment fire triggered a knee-jerk reaction from the City Council to amend the municipal zoning code, the Greensboro Regional Association of REALTORS® used the REALTOR® Party’s Land Use Initiative to commission a thorough analysis of the changes. The report informed significant changes to the language, and the REALTORS® continue to work with the lawmakers to refine and improve it.
St. Louis REALTORS® Channel History, Community to Celebrate Fair Housing Anniversary
In St. Louis, Missouri, REALTORS® have a profound reminder of past prejudicial real estate practices in the Shelley House, the property at the center of the landmark Supreme Court case of Shelley vs. Kraemer, which gave way to the Fair Housing Act 20 years later. In recognition of the 50th anniversary of that breakthrough legislation, St. Louis REALTORS® engaged into local projects benefiting underserved communities with grants from the REALTOR® Party and Missouri REALTORS®.
South Carolina REALTORS® Commission Analysis of Questionable Proposed Legislation
In South Carolina’s 2018 legislative session, three separate pieces of legislation raised red flags to the South Carolina REALTORS® as matters requiring close scrutiny. With the REALTOR® Party’s Land Use Initiative program, the REALTORS® requested an analysis of all three, and got the answers they needed to act and plan for the future.
Sacramento and Pacific West REALTORS® Join Forces to Keep Rent Control off the Ballot
Two local associations in California launched “decline to sign” campaigns to prevent rent-control ballot initiatives from garnering the necessary signatures to qualify for the November 6 election. While one succeeded and the other did not, both agree that it was well worth the effort.
Haywood REALTORS® Supports Smart Growth and Affordable Housing in Waynesville, NC
Bounded by the Great Smoky Mountains, the Blue Ridge Mountains, and a flood plain, sprawl isn’t necessarily an option for the Town of Waynesville, North Carolina; but using a REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grant, the REALTORS® of Haywood County helped to inform its 2020 Comprehensive Land Use Plan by sponsoring a public Visioning Workshop.
TREPAC Gets a Fun-filled Boost from Dallas-area Diversity Groups
What would you pay to dunk a director of your local REALTOR® board? How about the chance to throw pies at colleagues? Five diversity organizations across the Texas real estate industry joined together to host “Fair Play for TREPAC,” a fun-filled evening that honored the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, and raised more than $6,600 for the Texas Real Estate Political Action Committee.
Post-Hurricane Harvey, Houston REALTORS® are focused on Flood Impact – and How to Keep it from Happening Again
One year to the day after Hurricane Harvey hit Harris County, Texas, citizens were called to the polls to vote on the region’s largest bond proposal ever: $2.5 billion for flood-control projects and flood mitigation. The measure passed with 85% support; the Houston REALTORS® helped get out the vote.
Placemaking and Puppy Love Go Hand-in-Hand for Kenai Peninsula REALTORS®
In the city of Soldotna in Southcentral Alaska, dogs are having their day in a spacious new dog park. With the help of a Placemaking Grant and a lot of elbow grease, volunteers from the Kenai Peninsula Association worked alongside the Rotary Club and Parks and Rec Department to build a large shelter, with benches, for dogs and owners alike.
District of Columbia REALTORS® Get Legislative Results Protecting Property Owners and Housing Providers
Thanks to the REALTOR® Party’s Advocacy Everywhere program, the District of Columbia Association of REALTORS® was able to spur members to contact City Council members about two important issues affecting property owners in the Nation’s Capital. The sophisticated system of REALTOR® Party Mobile Alert texts and emails made communication swift and simple.
Greater Nashville REALTORS® Put Placemaking Grant to Work for Pedestrian Plaza
With vision, elbow grease, and a Placemaking Grant, Greater Nashville REALTORS® partnered with a local civic design organization to transform a dismal traffic triangle into a cheerful, safer pedestrian refuge.
Is Smart Growth the Key to Preserving Montana’s ‘Big Sky?’ Gallatin REALTORS® Funds Study to Find Answers.
A REALTOR® Party Smart Growth Action Grant enabled the Gallatin Association of REALTORS® to support an in-depth analysis of property tax value-per-acre in Bozeman, Montana. The resulting 3-D economic model clearly demonstrated the fiscal efficiency of concentrating growth in urban centers, rather than allowing sprawl, and will inform the development of the city’s Growth Plan.
Prince George’s County Mounts Winning Campaigns for County Council Candidates — Times Three!
With three new REALTOR® Champions on the County Council, and a favorable relationship with the County Executive-elect, the REALTORS® of Prince George’s County, Md., can be assured that the issues that matter to them are in good hands. Three Independent Expenditure Campaign grants from the REALTOR® Party helped strengthen the odds.
Southern Minnesota REALTORS® Jump-start Walkability in Mankato
Using REALTOR® Party resources, the REALTOR® Association of Southern Minnesota hosted a WalkShop event to determine how the revival of Mankato’s Old Town section could be even more vibrant and pedestrian-friendly. The half-day program included a walking tour with an expert consultant, and a whole lot of brainstorming.
The seaside municipality of Laguna Beach is not the sort of place anyone likes to leave – least of all the growing number of seniors who are deeply attached to the community in which they’ve made their homes. Now, with a REALTOR® Party grant, the local REALTORS® are partnering with a community non-profit to get seniors the help they need to remain where they want to be.
Sun Valley Board Help Veterans with a Housing Opportunity Grant
The pride that comes with having served in the armed forces makes it hard for many veterans to seek help securing and maintaining housing. “If anyone’s going to do something about their housing needs, it’s going to be the REALTORS®,” says the Executive Officer of Idaho’s Sun Valley Board of REALTORS®. But first, they have to find them.
Maine Association Facilitates Smart Growth for Once-thriving Mill Town
To help the once-prosperous mill town of Sanford envision a future with walkable affordable housing and fresh economic contributors, the Maine Association of REALTORS® used a Smart Growth Action Grant to support a three-day charrette, in which all stakeholders had an opportunity to contribute ideas to a new downtown development.
Palm Springs REALTORS® Defend Short-Term Rental Industry
When the thriving cottage industry of privately operated short-term vacation rental properties was threatened by a recent ballot initiative in Palm Springs, California, the REALTORS® secured an Issues Mobilization Grant. The success of their campaign to defeat the proposal was a victory for private property rights.
With Better Block Event, Longleaf Pine REALTORS® Demonstrate Just How Pedestrian-Friendly Haymount Can Be
Within Fayetteville, North Carolina, the Haymount district is blessed with neat neighborhoods of cottage-style homes and proximity to downtown, but its commercial district is cursed by an environment that is distinctly unfriendly to pedestrians. Armed with a vision, a Smart Growth Action Grant, and a whole lot of duct tape, the local Longleaf Pine REALTORS® set out to change that.
Kaua`i REALTORS® Use Grant to Engage More Brokers in Advocacy
The 584-member Kaua’i Board of REALTORS® knew that the best way to involve members in advocacy and RPAC would be to show them what exactly it does for them. At the conclusion of an informative breakfast presentation supported by a Broker Involvement Program Grant, 15 brokerages gladly signed on.
Residential Real Estate Council Invests in RPAC at Record Levels in 2017
The Residential Real Estate Council (formerly the Council of Residential Specialists) was already a powerful fundraising body for RPAC, but in 2017, its investing was supercharged; its Major Investors and President’s Circle membership went up, too.
Boise Regional REALTORS® Boost School District with Issues Mobilization Grant
In the fastest growing region in the fastest growing state in the nation, the public school facilities could not keep up with the booming student population. An Issues Mobilization campaign helped get a $95 million bond measure approved for new schools, school expansions, and the purchase of future school sites.
Memphis Area Association of REALTORS® Uses Diversity Grant to Commemorate Historic 50th Anniversaries
In remembering the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. in their own city 50 years ago this spring, the REALTORS® of Memphis, Tenn. marched two miles to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. But that was just the beginning of a strategic plan that shines a bright light on cultural diversity, fair housing, and anti-blight initiatives.
Thanks to Alabama REALTORS®, First-time Homebuyers Can Now Save for Down Payments and Closing Costs
Armed with polling results and economic research provided by the REALTOR® Party’s Issue Mobilization Grant and legislative language based on an existing model, Alabama REALTORS® convinced the state legislature to create a First-time and Second-chance Homebuyer Savings Account program.
Calaveras County REALTORS® Force Repeal of High-Risk Energy Conservation Loan Program
Thanks to a timely Issues Mobilization campaign, northern California’s Calaveras County Association of REALTORS® was able to reverse authorization for a loan program that the FHA no longer insures. When it comes to financing energy conservation improvements, they stand behind more responsible, less risky options.
Louisiana REALTORS® Defeat a Proposed Tax on Services
Every couple of years, the Louisiana legislature discusses a tax on services to help close the budget deficit, and every time, the Louisiana REALTORS® fight back to protect consumers from a huge increase in costs to get in to a new home or business property. This year, they had help from the REALTOR® Party's new Advocacy Everywhere program.
Miami REALTORS® Create Better Block in West Coconut Grove
Teams of both YPNs and "Old PNs" (as they're affectionately known in Miami) came together with the University of Miami’s School of Architecture to revive a vacant lot in West Coconut Grove with a new weekly marketplace and a vibrant landmark mural celebrating the area's Bahamian immigrant culture.
Cape Fear REALTORS® Top the Broker Involvement Chart with 99% Coverage
“We knew that enrollment drives response rates to Calls for Action,” said Johnson. “So, we set a goal of 50% enrollment for multi-agent offices.” Flash forward, after consistent effort, last fall CFR achieved 94% enrollment of all multi-office brokers, which covers 99% of all agent members. “We thought maintaining that level of involvement would be difficult, but by adding enrollment as part of the Designated REALTOR® Application Form, it’s been easy. We’ve had 100% enrollment with new brokers.”
Phoenix REALTORS®’ Creativity Leads to Sweeping RPAC Investments
With more than 9,200 members, the only sure-fire way for a mega-board like the Phoenix Association of REALTORS® (PAR) to get the attention of its full membership is to tie information to its dues renewal mailing. Several years ago, PAR launched a sweepstakes to encourage investment in RPAC during the December-January dues-renewal season; three years in, the event has gained such momentum that an RPAC Fundraising Grant recently earned back more than nine-times its value in RPAC investment.
Wisconsin REALTORS® Help Lower Property Taxes, Strengthen School Budgets, and Protect Property Rights
The Wisconsin REALTORS® Association launched two successful Issues Mobilization campaigns: the first convinced the legislature to eliminate a minor property tax dating back to the Great Depression; the other supported a new law that overturned an existing one that had been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.
West Central Minnesota REALTORS® Help to House the Homeless
When the regional Continuum of Care program serving the same 18 counties as Minnesota's West Central Association of REALTORS® created a more streamlined entry system to bring assistance to those in dire need of housing, the REALTORS® used a REALTOR® Party Housing Opportunity Grant to get the word out.
Antiquated zoning and a mire of case law stands in the way of the development of housing necessary for economic growth in the Boston region. Using the REALTOR® Party's Land Use Initiative, the Greater Boston Real Estate Board is tackling the complexities of zoning reform in City Hall and at the State House.
Partnership Spurs Diversity for the Grosse Pointe REALTORS®
In Grosse Pointe, Michigan, where Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his "The Other America" speech 50 years ago this March, the local REALTOR® board makes all its decisions through an internalized lens of diversification. Partnering with the public school system recently, the REALTORS® recently created a calendar illustrated with student visions of diversity; proceeds from calendar sales support diversity efforts in the schools.
Creativity Help Associations Keep RPAC Investments at an All-time High
With 35% of the national membership investing in RPAC in 2017, state and local REALTOR® Associations have made RPAC stronger than ever when it comes to advancing its public policy agenda. From a strong team of volunteer leaders to technology platforms that help small associations get big results, the REALTOR® Party is getting the word out that investment matters.
Houston Association Gathers and Shares Hurricane Harvey Recovery Resources with Multicultural Associations
Using a Diversity Initiative Grant, The Houston Association of REALTORS® put together a program for members, including the multicultural real estate associations in town, providing information on topics from mold remediation to tax relief to dealing with the emotional aftermath. Grocery story gift cards and a positive housing market outlook made the supportive event even cheerier.
New Hampshire REALTORS® Envision Smart Growth for White Mountains
The White Mountains of New Hampshire are a popular tourist region, but affordable housing for would-be service industry staff is not meeting demand. The 150-member White Mountain Board of REALTORS® used a Smart Growth Action Grant to explore possible zoning changes that would permit higher density development—and more affordable housing.
Telluride REALTORS® Elect Three REALTOR® Champions to Town Council
Last fall, with four seats on the Town Council up for grabs, the Telluride Association of REALTORS® (TAR) made the most of the opportunity to promote candidates who espoused the values of affordable housing; sustainable growth and development; and economic vitality and vibrancy. With an Independent Expenditure, TAR conducted a campaign that helped elect three REALTOR® Champions.