The Fair Housing Act marks 50 years today

Viewpoint

The Realtors Association of Maui believes that Maui’s vibrant mix of cultures is what makes us great and gives our community strength. With that diversity in mind, today we commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act being enacted into law back on April 11, 1968. In addition, RAM would like to celebrate the State of Hawaii enacting our own Fair Housing Act Chapter 515 of the Hawaii Revised Statutes the previous year, 1967.

RAM recognizes that any progress made stands on the shoulders of generations that preceded us. People marched unwelcomingly, protested in contentious environments, challenged discriminatory practices, and fought quietly in legislative sessions and community gatherings. Resistance, harassment and violence are unfortunately hallmarks of the pursuit of equal housing.

Despite opposition, the Fair Housing Act and HRS Chapter 515 declared a policy of fair housing by prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental or financing of housing based on race, color, national origin or religion.

For generations, access to housing of choice didn’t mean access for all. Where you lived was often dictated by the color of your skin or your nationality. Realtors were at the forefront of changing this dynamic.

In 1947, African-American real estate brokers formed the National Association of Real Estate Brokers with a clear fair housing purpose, which gave a platform to educate communities about people being denied property ownership and shifting policies all across the country, including Hawaii.

Changing attitudes and behaviors proved to be difficult. However, progress has been made. The Fair Housing Act was amended in later years to also prohibit discrimination based on gender, disability, familial status and to increase the enforcement of the law. With the support of Realtors, Hawaii — yet again — proved to be progressive by further reforming HRS Chapter 515 with the above, but also including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, marital status, age and human immunodeficiency virus infection.

Realtors and the real estate community continue to lead the way to expand fair housing protection, to bring about a market that is truly open and provides equal housing opportunities for all.

RAM believes that fair housing is an essential part of keeping Maui a healthy progressive place to live and grow a family. We are working together with our partners and allies to show that our industry is firmly committed to equal housing opportunities and recognizes the uniquely important role we have in this monumental endeavor to ensure everyone will have the opportunity to experience the American dream of homeownership.

* Lawrence Carnicelli is the government affairs director for the Realtors Association of Maui.