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The History of the Fair Housing Act: How it Changed the Face of American Living

A Diverse Group of Orlando Renters in a Circle Looking Down at the CameraIn the late 1960s, America was in a state of commotion. The Civil Rights Movement was well underway, and people were fighting for equality across all walks of life. This included the right to fair housing. On April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Fair Housing Act into law. This act banned discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It was a clear victory for the Civil Rights Movement, and it transformed the face of American living forever. In this article, we will take a closer look at the history of the Fair Housing Act and its effects on American renters.

Civil Rights and Fair Housing

The Fair Housing Act was a direct response to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the campaign for equality that was established across the country. That act banned discrimination in public places but did not cover discrimination in housing. Consequently, many black Americans were forced to live in miserable housing conditions. The Kerner Commission, studying the civil disorders and causes of riots in US Cities in 1967, wrote, “Our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white—separate and unequal.”

Understanding that the federal government had a responsibility to address housing inequality, Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts and Representative John Conyers of Michigan sponsored an act that would formally forbid housing discrimination. On April 4, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. The Fair Housing Act was passed by Congress on April 11, 1968, and was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on the same day.

The Fair Housing Act covered housing inequality by making it illegal to discriminate against renters based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also launched the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), which works to remove housing discrimination, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities.  FHEO is also responsible for enforcing the act.

The Impact of Fair Housing

The effects of the Fair Housing Act were rapid and far-reaching. It opened up previously segregated neighborhoods to minorities. Also, it made it simpler for families of all income levels to find safe and affordable housing. The act has been praised for reducing poverty and improving educational outcomes for children residing in low-income households.

The Fair Housing Act has been amended several times since it was first passed. The most up-to-date amendment, passed in 1988, expanded the definition of “family” to include unmarried couples and people with disabilities. It also tightened the enforcement provisions of the act.

The Fair Housing Act and You

The Fair Housing Act is one of the most important pieces of legislation in American history. It has helped create a more equal and just society by ensuring everyone has access to safe and affordable housing. If you’re a renter in the United States, it’s important to know your rights under the Fair Housing Act. Some of the rights the Fair Housing Act protects include:

  • The right to choose a housing option without unfairness
  • The right to reside in a safe and good housing environment
  • The right to fair treatment throughout the housing search process
  • The right to not be rejected for housing based on your income

If you feel like you’ve been discriminated against, you can file a complaint with HUD under the FHEO. You can also contact a fair housing organization in your area for help.


To best protect your rights, it’s also advisable to work with landlords and property managers who appreciate and follow fair housing laws. Real Property Management Trusted Hands has a long history of commitment to fair housing. Browse our listings online to find high-quality rental homes in Orlando.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

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