APRIL IS FAIR HOUSING MONTH
- A strong economy = more jobs, more income, more business
- Healthier people
- A cleaner environment
- Higher-achieving students
- Safer streets
April is upon us. This time of year is usually a flurry of spring market activity. It’s also a time when we reflect on the ways people are shut out of the housing market, and commit to expanding housing opportunity, with our annual observation of Fair Housing Month.This year is different. Because of measures to slow the spread of coronavirus, activities outside our homes have slowed or stopped. But crises like these remind us that despite our differences, we are all very much the same. Viruses don’t discriminate. Many of us are in similar circumstances, trying to figure out how to work from home while also homeschooling our kids. Despite these challenges, we’re also finding new ways to strengthen our communities, by getting groceries for an elderly neighbor or buying a gift card to support a local restaurant and its employees.
This quiet time is an opportune one to reflect on how we are all bound together. Coronavirus threatens us all. But the virus will also hit certain members of our communities especially hard. Whether due to losing a job without savings to fall back on, increased unpaid caregiving work, the threat of evictions or foreclosures, xenophobic threats or violence, or difficulty accessing necessary services, communities of color, people with disabilities, and women face even greater burdens now. We must ensure that, as we confront the pandemic, and as we recover, that we all do so together.
As we stay home, REALTORS® can and must rise to the challenge. Fair Housing Month emphasizes education, reflection, and discussion—meaningful efforts we can still undertake while practicing social distancing. This year, NAR is presenting Fair Housing Month @ Home – curated lists of books, videos, podcasts and other resources for you to educate yourself throughout the month. Read, watch, listen, think, discuss – and strengthen your fair housing knowledge and leadership.
[***Optional – add reference to your association’s specific book, movie or activity. Include online discussion platform, if you are using one. ***]
[Use the following list as a reference as you plan your association activity—or share the entire list with your members.]
1. Host a Fair Housing Book Club
The NAR ebook library has added a number of fair housing titles recommended by NAR’s new Director of Federal Fair Housing Policy, Bryan Greene. Read them on your own or host a book club on Zoom or another social meeting platform. A list of recommended fair housing titles, along with book reviews, videos, and discussion questions, here.
3. Listen to a Fair Housing Podcast
Check out Bryan Greene’s list of recommended fair housing podcasts here.
4. Read Fair Housing Journalism
Investigative journalists have done incredible work uncovering housing discrimination and explaining the history of segregation in America. Later in April, NAR will add recommended fair housing journalism to the Fair Housing Month @ Home page.
5. Check out Fair Housing nonprofit organizations
Learn about local and national Fair Housing nonprofit organizations and the work they do to support equal access to housing. Later this month, NAR will add a list of leading fair housing organizations to the Fair Housing Month @ Home page.
6. Take an online Fair Housing Training
Later this month, NAR hopes to make available a practical, real-estate focused online training on how implicit bias may inadvertently influence your interactions with consumers. Using specific examples from a REALTOR’s day, the training will help you avoid thinking traps that can lead to unintentional discrimination.
Questions? Contact Bryan Greene.
Observed each April to commemorate the landmark 1968 Fair Housing Act in which U.S. law was established that prohibited discrimination in housing.
Annually, NAR creates a poster that state and local real estate associations may print, use or distribute to promote the REALTOR® commitment to Fair Housing. You are authorized to print and distribute the Fair Housing Month Poster. It can be printed 22 x 17, 14 x 11, or 11 x 8.5.
Show you support equal opportunity in housing by displaying this declaration of following fair housing laws and your commitment to provide professional service with the REALTOR® Fair Housing Declaration.
In [JURISDICTION NAME] as
|WHEREAS||The Fair Housing Act, enacted on April 11, 1968, enshrined into federal law the goal of eliminating racial segregation and ending housing discrimination in the United States; and|
|WHEREAS||The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, and disability, and commits recipients of federal funding to affirmatively further fair housing in their communities; and|
|WHEREAS||[JURISDICTION NAME] is committed to the mission and intent of Congress to provide fair and equal housing opportunities for all; and|
|WHEREAS||Our social fabric, the economy, health, and environment are strengthened in diverse, inclusive communities; and|
|WHEREAS||More than fifty years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, discrimination persists, and many communities remain segregated; and|
|Acts of housing discrimination and barriers to equal housing opportunity are repugnant to a common sense of decency and fairness.|
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the [PUBLIC ENTITY] of [JURISDICTION NAME] does hereby declare the month of April, 2020 as
an inclusive community committed to fair housing, and to promoting appropriate activities by private and public entities to provide and advocate for equal housing opportunities for all residents and prospective residents of [JURISDICTION NAME].
April is #FairHousingMonth. Join @nardotrealtor in commemorating the role #Realtors play in shaping the future, and building thriving neighborhoods throughout the month. Learn more at nar.realtor/fairhousing.
Our social fabric and economy are better off when everyone has a chance to live and work together. This #FairHousingMonth join us in acknowledging the role #Realtors play in unlocking doors to homeownership and shaping the future. Learn more at nar.realtor/fairhousing.
#FairHousing is an essential part of the real estate industry. This April, join @nardotrealtor in recognizing the value that diversity and inclusion bring to thriving communities nationwide. #FairHousingMakesUSStronger Learn more at nar.realtor/fairhousing.
Diverse communities are thriving communities. Join @nardotrealtor and #Realtors in acknowledging the role of diversity and inclusion in housing and in business throughout #FairHousingMonth and beyond. Learn more at nar.realtor/fairhousing.
In thriving communities, residents have the opportunities necessary to succeed including access to quality schools, good jobs, public transportation, safe streets, and healthy environments. Join #Realtors in commemorating #FairHousingMonth and learn more at nar.realtor/fairhousing.
Leadership from the National Association of Realtors® met with Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson and other senior Department officials on Wednesday in Washington to discuss fair housing issues just hours after unanimously passing a new plan to tackle the issue.
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.