54 years ago this month, the Fair Housing Act was passed, prohibiting discrimination in the sale, rental and financing of housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, and gender. The Act was later amended to include familial status and disability. Upon signing the historic legislation, President Lyndon B. Johnson noted the beginning of a new era, where fair housing for all would become “a part of the American way of life.”
But are we there yet? In short, the answer is no.
The Fair Housing Act was an important step forward in federal housing policy, and it informs nearly all of Housing Justice Center’s work to varying degrees. Every day we speak with people running up against barriers to safe, accessible, affordable housing — barriers which disproportionately impact working class communities of color. It’s increasingly clear to us that the work toward President Johnson’s promised era continues, and our collective vision of “fair housing for all” is expanding.
At HJC, we believe that housing is a human right, as recognized in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights and reaffirmed in other international resolutions. We know that housing is a critical foundation for many facets of our lives, including physical and mental health, quality of life, access to education, and economic outcomes, among others.
Of course, saying that housing is a human right and realizing that vision through concrete policies are two different things. We believe that shifting the rhetorical framework builds possibility and political will for the latter work to happen. With that in mind, here are some of the latest inroads HJC is working toward to ensure Minnesotans across race, income, and zip code can live in stable and dignified housing.
In 2022, we will…
- Continue to push for source of income protections, which are a critical measure to protect renters from discrimination based on their income.
- Deepen the work of our Renters Reclaim the Record project, designed to help people who have recently been denied housing due to the algorithmically biased tenant screening process.
- Engage in fair housing impact litigation on behalf of low-income, BIPOC tenants to curb mass displacement, discrimination, and serious habitability concerns.
- Advocate for the creation of deeply affordable housing opportunities in communities across the state to ensure that people have access to a range of housing choices based on their individual needs, free from discriminatory barriers.
- Partner with community-based organizations to expand renter protections and housing rights.