When I watched the documentary “A Matter of Place” produced by the Fair Housing Justice Center, I was reminded of why our work to end housing discrimination is as relevant today as it was when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968.
Despite the perception of many, this powerful short film shows us that housing discrimination is very much a part of American life today. One rental agent refuses to take a couple’s application fee because they are black; a man returns home to see anti-gay slurs scrawled on his door; a landlord calls one of his tenants a “program person” and offers him a roach-infested apartment because the tenant receives a housing subsidy.
These incidents still happen in cities large and small. They point to the invisible struggle families often go through to give their children and loved ones a safe and decent place to call home.
April is Fair Housing Month, and as we celebrate the passage of the Fair Housing Act, it’s a chance to reflect on how far we still have to go to end housing discrimination. The theme for this year is “Fair Housing is Your Right. Use it!” We wish there were no more instances of housing discrimination. But when it happens, we want to hear about it. If you feel you’ve been a victim of housing discrimination, you can report it.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, disability, or familial status. Approximately 20 states, and the District of Columbia, including more than 150 cities, towns and counties across the nation also have additional protections that specifically prohibit discrimination against individuals based upon sexual preference and gender identity. In addition, 12 states, the District of Columbia, and several counties and municipalities include protections for persons based on their source of income.
Each day, HUD continues to fight inequality in housing and we’ll keep up this fight along with the help from our fair housing partners. This April, and indeed throughout the entire year, we’ll also work with our partners to spread the word that the law protects you from those who deny you your place in American life.