LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: A Big Year for Fair Housing

Philip Weiden | February 2018

2018 is a celebratory year in the history of the fair housing movement. It marks the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act. The act banned discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin in the renting, buying, and selling of all types of housing.

Passage of the act, which was signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, was no small feat. Many neighborhoods heretofore had covenants listing groups of people that you could not sell a house to. It was immoral and it was wrong.

Today we have made great strides in eradicating discrimination in housing, but acknowledge that we still have a ways to go. Our co-op fair housing efforts are bearing fruit. Rockland County has passed a timeline reform bill in which a board must accept or reject a prospective purchaser in 45 days or less from the time they receive an application for approval. We are also working on legislation in Westchester County with a second section of a bill that requires a reason in writing if a co-op board denies someone housing. In both cases the person would automatically be accepted into the co-op if they do not hear from the board in the 45-day time period. Co-op housing is currently the only form of housing where a person is not told why they are being rejected.

HGAR has a Fair Housing Committee with a mission to make 2018 a big year. The committee’s goals are to further educate the membership about fair housing law and to expand their knowledge on the nuances of what is right, and what is wrong. In some instances people do not know what may or may not violate a fair housing law and the committee wants to help everyone understand so they have a clearer comprehension.

HGAR will be posting public service announcements during Fair Housing month. This is a great way to get the public engaged. We will do it through Real Estate in Depth, Facebook and e-mails to HGAR membership. Stay tuned for future updates.

Philip Weiden
Legislative Affairs columnist Philip Weiden is the Government Affairs Director for the Hudson Gateway Association of Realtors.