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5 Fun Ways to Celebrate the Fair Housing Act's 50th Birthday

5 min read
Sep 5, 2018

It's "Back to School" season, so this month, we'll be covering the Compliance Basics. One of the most fundamental regulations to today's compliance landscape is the Fair Housing Act. As this landmark legislation turns 50, here are a few ways you can celebrate.

The Fair Housing Act is one of the landmark Fair Lending regulations, and this year, it's turning 50!

Signed by President Lyndon Johnson just seven days after Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination in April 1968, the FHA was designed to eliminate housing discrimination. Officially known as Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, but commonly known as the Fair Housing Act, this is the backbone of Fair Lending compliance today.

Here are a few ways your financial institution can make sure to celebrate the Fair Housing Act as we enter the end of 2018!

Fair housing is important for building strong families, communities, businesses, and local economies. As you focus on Fair Lending, CRA and Redlining compliance risk, it's important to remember both the letter and spirit of the law, particularly as regulations evolve.

Here are a few ways you can celebrate the Fair Housing Act as it turns 50 this year:


1. Brush Up On the History of the Fair Housing

If you'd like to learn more or just brush up on the history of fair housing and housing discrimination, check out this interactive timeline created by the National Fair Housing Alliance. Starting with the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and going until the 2015 Supreme Court decision to uphold disparate impact, this timeline is a comprehensive look at how the approach to fair housing has evolved in the US.

It will only take a few minutes to navigate through this timeline, but it is a really interesting walk through history.

A good reference resource for financial institutions and community groups, this timeline also helps provide context for the spirit of compliance. It's hard to motivate a team to really embrace the importance of compliance and risk management if it feels like Fair Lending, CRA, and Redlining is just about analyzing numbers and checking boxes. A historical and personal perspective on these issues may help your team understand why compliance is important, and foster a strong compliance culture.

If the history and current state of the Fair Housing Act is interesting to you, you may also appreciate this article from the Mortgage Bankers Association. It's a really good resource covering lawsuits, and even the current approach to the Fair Housing Act from HUD and other regulators.


2. Encourage Your Community to Submit Stories to the 50 Stories Project

The National Fair Housing Alliance is currently accepting submissions of short films about fair housing from students across the nation. The 50 Stories project will tell the personal stories of 50 people who have been helped by the Fair Housing Act in partnership with students from the top film and journalism schools in the country. However, in order to tell those stories, the NFHA needs to hear from individuals who have been impacted by the Fair Housing Act.

They are looking for stories about how the Fair Housing Act was used to improve lives, communities, and businesses. Financial institutions are in a unique position to know and understand the real impact of fair housing in strengthening their community, and may even know good individuals to feature. Who knows, maybe your financial institution is a story in itself! 

3. Read Why Real Individuals Support Fair Housing

When you introduce yourself to someone new it’s common to say “My name is (name), and I’m from (place).” Behind those two details are a story. You might forget a person's name within a few seconds of meeting them, but you're unlikely to forget their personal history. 

Where you’re from and where you’ve lived communicates so much. Where you live has an impact on every facet of life, impacting your school, your access to food and food quality, the jobs, economic opportunities, worldview, health, religion, and so much more. In order to help bring these personal stories to the public and celebrate the Fair Housing Act, the Fair Housing Justice Center has published the stories of two individuals who support fair housing here. 

“These first-person reflections describe how where a person lived impacted their life, and why that person supports fair housing in their community as a result," the FHJC says.

Again, these personal stories may help bring the real benefit and importance of fair housing to life!

4. Help Build the Beloved Community in New York

mlkThe Fair Housing Justice Center, along with Union Theological Seminary and the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, have launched a new initiative called Building the Beloved Community in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act.

This is a joint effort between fair housing advocates and religious leaders to promote fair housing in the New York City region in order to build a “beloved community,” a place free from discrimination and segregation, where people could live peacefully.

According to the FHJC, “the initiative is focused on educating religious congregations, communities and organizations across the region about fair housing rights and how to exercise them, and on equipping individuals and communities to advocate for fair housing locally, regionally, and nationally.”

This effort to fulfill the vision that Dr. King had many years ago - a vision to build a beloved community in our country - is a worthy one. To learn more about the Building the Beloved Community initiative and how you can participate in it, visit the website.

5. Support Local Fair Housing Events

As we've written about recently, local organizations are hosting lots of Fair Lending- and Redlining-related events this year. Take some time to research if there are any events in your community that your financial institution could participate in or sponsor. These conversations, seminars, and events are a great way to connect to real individuals and groups in your community.

For example, the Fair Housing Center of Toledo, OH, is hosting a Fair Housing summit on September 21. 

A quick and simple way to find events in your area is just to search "fair lending event," "fair housing event," or "redlining event" and your city name or state name. I just searched for "fair lending event charlotte, nc" and found this local organization that has events all month. Do the same for your city or state, and I'm sure you'll find at least one event that might be a good fit for you.

Ncontracts Viewpoint: While you might not always want to celebrate compliance, it can be fun to celebrate the Fair Housing Act. This landmark piece of legislation really did mark an important shift against discrimination and racism, and help improve access to housing. 

That said, Fair Lending does still present challenges for financial institutions, even when you want to do the right thing. That's why data analysis can be so important, because it can help you tell the story of your financial institution. Know that Ncontracts is here to help with your Fair Lending and HMDA analysis and transmittal.


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