Posted on April 30, 2020 at 6:00 am
In the U.S., the Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 to help ensure and protect equal access to housing opportunities for all. It was one of the last acts signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson during the Civil Rights Movement and it was done in response to the uprisings that broke out when the leader of the Civil Rights Movement, Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated.
Before it became a law, civilians and leaders of the Civil Rights Movement worked to promote passage of the Fair Housing Act by presenting the issues of housing segregation and discrimination to Congress multiple times. It was their passion and drive for equality that helped the Fair Housing Act become reality. President Lyndon Johnson signed the act into law as a catalyst for change, to fight segregation and racism and to offer hope to communities of color in the U.S.
The Fair Housing Act has also been a sign of hope to communities for a more integrated and flourishing nation. Over time, there have been additions and changes made to the act that encompass a more integrated and equal society. The Fair Housing Act states that it is illegal for discrimination to occur in housing or housing transactions if the cause of those actions are due to a person being in a protected class.
There are federal and state protected classes and sometimes local ordinances that add additional ones. Federally, there are seven protected classes: race, color, religion, national origin, gender, familial status, and disability, protected in all 50 states.
State and local ordinances may include additional protected classes. In Washington state, there are three additional protected classes: military/veteran status, sexual orientation, and marital status. In the city of Spokane, age, refugee status, and domestic violence victim status are protected classes as well.
Most of us are in a few or more of these protected classes. If a person is denied housing or treated differently because of his/her/their protected class(es), then there would likely be a fair housing violation and the person would have an option to pursue his/her/their rights under the Fair Housing Act.
Northwest Fair Housing Alliance is a local nonprofit organization that works in 17 counties in Eastern Washington, including the cities of Spokane, Spokane Valley, Liberty Lake, Deer Park, Airway Heights, and Colville, among others. We provide education, counseling, and advocacy for individuals and families to help provide equal opportunities in housing.
Housing is critical. It provides safety and economic opportunities. Northwest Fair Housing Alliance believes in communities working together to create harmonious futures for generations to come. We love opportunities to help educate our communities and help make long-lasting change.
Northwest Fair Housing Alliance’s website provides information on a variety of fair housing issues on web pages dedicated to different subjects. A few areas that I would like to highlight include:
On a second website, Sex Discrimination in Housing, we offer resources and information about housing discrimination based on sex, including sexual harassment, stereotyping, and domestic violence. The website includes downloadable printable posters and brochures as well as video public service announcements.
As an introduction to race and national-origin housing discrimination in the Spokane area, Northwest Fair Housing Alliance produced the following short video: Systemic Residential Race Discrimination in Spokane – A 6 Minute History.
Christina Momono has been working with the nonprofit organization Northwest Fair Housing Alliance for 16 years along with a wonderful team. Ms. Momono has worked with various individuals, assisting them with reasonable accommodations and through the difficulties of housing discrimination complaints. Additionally, she has worked on educational outreach throughout Eastern Washington and has regularly presented at the annual Inland Northwest Fair Housing Conference in Spokane. Ms. Momono is also an ESL Instructor at Spokane Community College and Gonzaga University, teaching international students, immigrants, and refugees.