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Power Station

Dec 19, 2022

Every civil rights law enacted in America is preceded by a past we have not fully reckoned with. The Civil Rights Act of 1968, following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr, was an antidote to the racism embedded in state and national policy making, from segregationist zoning laws to bank and insurance redlining. Known as the Fair Housing Act, it prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, religion, and national origin, later expanded to include gender as a protected class. After its passage, community members in Virginia strategized to make it enforceable. They landed on testing to demonstrate how white and Black families with the same means experienced disperate treatment and results when applying for apartment or bank loans. These forward-thinking volunteers launched Housing Opportunities Made Equal of Virginia in 1971, now led by civil rights lawyer Thomas Okuda Fitzpatrick. He champions those who have been discriminated against, including on grounds of newly protected categories in Virginia: disability, sexual orientation, and source of funds. HOME advances systemic change in industry practices through education and legal action. And Tom reminds us that making headway on all social movements starts with ensuring justice in housing.