Everyone Deserves the Opportunity of Fair Housing

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Knoxville HFH

A new homeowner works on his house during a blitz build hosted by Fahe Member Knoxville Habitat for Humanity.

During this month we look back at the 1968 Fair Housing Act, which was intended to help protect buyers and renters from landlord and seller discrimination, making it unlawful to refuse to sell or rent to any person because of who they are.

Nearly 20 years later, we passed the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a companion to the Fair Housing Act, which links discrimination and finance. Both of these Acts are landmark in the history of our country, and they have brought us a long way, but not far enough.

The Fair Housing Act, unto itself, does not get at the heart of injustices that are rooted in money. These injustices prevent people from attaining the financing necessary to own their own home. The CRA Act, while another great step in the right direction, does not go far enough to make credit available to parts of our country where we do not have a strong banking presence.

In 2018, Fahe and our Members served 85,000 Appalachian families with services in which quality affordable housing was the largest component.  For nearly 40 years, we’ve seen firsthand how families of any income consistently succeed as homeowners when fair and reasonable financing is made available. It’s why we work incredibly hard to bring that kind of financing to a greater scale in our region. Owning a home is the number one way a family earns and retains wealth in this country, which makes obtaining homeownership one of the most transformative actions a person or family can perform.

Access to mortgage credit is the reason that we dedicate our time and energy to working with the government sponsored enterprises, mainly Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have a duty to serve places like Appalachia.  Duty to Serve encourages investments that would not otherwise be made, making the program effective in places like Appalachia where CRA tends to be less impactful.

We strengthen this approach by partnering with like-minded organizations in the Delta, the US Mexico Border, Indian country, and those working with farm labor because together we represent 21 million people who are among the least likely to get the opportunity to own a home, build wealth, and do better.

We celebrate Fair housing, what it represents, and the foundation that it built. Let us resolve to continue to work for every American to have the opportunity to rent a safe and decent home or, better yet, the opportunity to own.  It is the opportunity that every American deserves, “no matter who your mama is.”

The Fair Housing act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, or financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and familial status.  It is illegal for anyone to threaten coerce, intimidate, or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right.  Fahe urges people who have been the victim of discrimination in housing or have witnessed discrimination to others to report these cases and help eliminate these practices.  Visit this page or call 1-800-669-9777 (voice) or 1-800-927-9275 (TTY) to report housing discrimination.

Jim King
Jim King
For thirty years, Jim King has worked to advance opportunity for the people and communities of Appalachia. In 1990 he moved to Appalachia to become one of the first staff members at Fahe. Since becoming President in 2000, Mr. King has led Fahe through a period of unprecedented growth in impact, lending, and territory. He pioneered a collaborative model, the Berea Performance Compacts, bringing scale and performance to nonprofits serving rural and remote communities. He established Fahe’s reputation as a national authority on Appalachia, rural issues, and persistent poverty.

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