Jul 15, 2019
What does it take to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity? According to Lisa Rice, President of the National Fair Housing Alliance, (NHFA) it starts with recognizing that discrimination and inequity are rooted in federal policies, most fundamentally, residential segregation. The legacy of racist policies, from redlining to unequal access to credit, persists in communities of color. Disinvestment creates desperation from those seeking credit, a vacuum that has been filled by payday lenders and other predatory actors. NFHA is dedicated entirely to the equal and fair access of all people to live in the housing and community of their choice. It operates with a small staff of researchers, trainers, and organizers that support a membership base comprised of local fair housing groups. They are the voices of those who are discriminated against, an experience, as Lisa reminds us, that can traumatize its victims. And while NFHA advocates for just policies no matter who is in the White House, the extreme actions of the current administration have created unforeseen circumstances. They range from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development’s eradication of the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, which NFHA legally challenged and was able to restore, but without the tool that enables municipalities to meet fair housing act requirements. And they include the separation of children from their families at the southern border. This humanitarian and civil rights crisis is also a fair housing violation. There are many meaningful ways to advance fair housing and we are all responsible to raise our voices in the name of justice.