The Fair Housing Act
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale or provision of housing based on protected class. Protected classes are race, color, national origin, religion, sex (and gender and sexual orientation), disability status, and familial status (familial status means “having children”). In West Virginia, blindness and ancestry are also protected classes.
Here are some examples of housing discrimination:
- The rental office at an apartment building puts black applicants on a long waiting list, while non-black applicants are shown available rentals.
- A landlord evicts a grandmother who took in her sick daughter’s children because the landlord did not want kids on his property.
- A housing provider refuses to accept tenants with a history of alcoholism, even if the prospective tenant demonstrates they are in recovery.
- A male landlord tells female tenants that he will take care of their repair requests faster if they give him sexual favors.
- A housing provider refuses to count Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) as income when reviewing applications for housing.
Passed shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr, the Fair Housing Act is one of the biggest strides in civil rights legislation. For an interactive timeline of the struggle for fair and equitable housing, see the The Fair Housing Center of Greater Boston’s interactive timeline.