50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act

Today marks the 50th  anniversary of the passage of the Federal Fair Housing Act (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act). Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson a week after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination, the landmark legislation prohibits discrimination in the sale or rental of housing based on race, religion, national origin, and sex.

Prior to the passage of the law, Supreme Court decisions like Shelly v. Kraemer (1948) and Jones v. Mayer Co. (1968), made it illegal for landlords to deny tenants or buyers on the basis of race, nevertheless race based housing decisions continued in the United States. Protestors against housing discrimination were subjected to violence and harsh treatment. Controversy also arose when family members of deceased members of the armed forced of African and Hispanic origin were denied housing in white localities.

Mass demonstrations led by MLK and by other civil rights leaders influenced the passage of the Fair Housing Act. In 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. led a march in Chicago, known as the Chicago Freedom Movement or Chicago Open Housing Movement, protesting housing segregation.

When originally passed in 1968, the Fair Housing Act prohibited discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, and national origin. Although well intentioned, there were no federal enforcement provisions written into the law, as such the law was later amended to allow for enforcement and added additional protected classes including sex, disability and familial status.

Today, we celebrate this major milestone and reaffirm our country’s commitment to providing equal access to housing without regard to an individual’s race, ethnicity, nationality, sex, handicap or familial status.


NOTE: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. For legal advice please contact an experienced attorney. For information about PKS Law Group, P.C., please our website at www.pks-lawgroup.com  or contact us at info@pks-lawgroup.com