This April, HUD is celebrating Fair Housing Month 2016 with the launch of a new national media campaign that helps us picture what communities with shared opportunities for all might look like.
The new campaign comes as the nation celebrates the 48th anniversary of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, the landmark law that was passed one week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Although America’s communities are more diverse than ever, and blatant housing discrimination is increasingly a thing of the past, studies suggest that subtle housing discrimination continues to affect the lives of families every day.
HUD’s fair housing efforts and those of our state and local partners seek to level the playing field when it comes to housing so that all families – regardless of who they are or what zip code they live in – have the housing and other factors they need to achieve their dreams and build for their future. What might this equity look like? Vibrant neighborhoods with quality schools, healthy food options, reliable transportation and quality housing are just some of the amenities many families search for, and that shouldn’t be limited only to some based on race or nationality, or what neighborhood they choose.
It is not a radical idea, but rather one we must envision and collectively work toward by removing the barriers that keep some families from sharing in these equal housing opportunities.
Our new media campaign includes an ad titled “A Zip Code Should Not Determine a Child’s Future,” which features children of different ethnicities looking toward a bright future because they have the chance to live in neighborhoods filled with opportunities. In “Everyone Thrives in a Vibrant Community,” we see bustling neighborhoods that offer good healthcare, quality schools and fresh food markets.
The print ads and digital public service announcements (PSAs) reinforce the ideals behind the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule (AFFH), which equips communities that receive HUD funding with the tools and data they need to meet their long-standing fair housing obligations.
Since the Fair Housing Act first became law, HUD funding recipients have been obligated to reduce barriers to housing choice and to promote equal opportunity. The obligation was intended to ensure that every person in America has equal access to housing, regardless of their race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability or familial status, all protected under the Fair Housing Act. The final AFFH rule provides HUD program participants with clear guidelines and the data they need to achieve those goals. Community involvement in the planning process is a critical element, and the HUD media campaign includes customizable posters that local cities and other jurisdictions can use to announce neighborhood meetings that residents can attend.
To also mark the beginning of Fair Housing Month, we held a commemorative event at HUD’s Washington, DC, headquarters featuring HUD Secretary Julián Castro, HUD Deputy Secretary Nani Coloretti and Diane Bell McKoy, President and CEO of Associated Black Charities, who spoke about the ideals behind equity in housing. We spent part of the program celebrating the tremendous gains that have occurred since the Fair Housing Act was passed. But we also acknowledged the current challenges and how much work we still have to do.
Just last year, HUD and its Fair Housing Assistance Program partner agencies received 8,289 complaints alleging discrimination based on one or more of the Fair Housing Act’s protected classes. The categories with the highest number of complaints were disability and race, but HUD has also focused on combatting lending discrimination as well as discrimination faced by women, members of the LGBT community and families with children.
This month, and all year long, we remain committed to working so that that every person who calls America home has the same access to housing choice and economic opportunities.
To help us envision it all, please view the media campaign, which is being conducted in partnership with the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA.) It includes print and digital PSAs in various languages, online videos and social media outreach.
To view the campaign PSAs, go here.
Gustavo Velasquez is the Assistant Secretary for the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.