Bipartisan Commission Releases Report on Fair Housing
Feature Story by Karen Tanenbaum - 12/18/2008
On the 40th anniversary of the "Fair Housing Act," a bipartisan commission released a report stating that more work still needs to be done to enforce anti-discrimination laws in public and private housing.
The report, titled "The Future of Fair Housing," compiles research and testimony from experts and residents who testified about ongoing problems with fair housing enforcement at a series of public hearings held in Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles.
The report also provides recommendations for improving federal enforcement and promotion of fair housing laws, including the Fair Housing Act of 1968. The Act prohibits discrimination based on gender, race, national origin, religion, disability or familial status in the housing market.
"In each of the very different cities we visited, we heard the same thing: the system is broken," said Henry Cisneros, former HUD Secretary and commission co-chair.
Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) said that the findings were "more disturbing than expected' and that witnesses "testified to the pervasive nature and extent of illegal housing discrimination and its connections to government policy and practice that affect communities across the nation."
One key recommendation of the commission was to move the responsibility for enforcing fair housing laws to a new, independent agency. The current level of enforcement by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has been inadequate.
"The federal government needs to be in the business of getting things done," said Jack Kemp, former HUD Secretary and commission co-chair. "And right now, fair housing enforcement is not getting done. That's why we need a new, independent agency that won't get mired in politics."
The commission was sponsored by the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF), the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCRUL), the NAACP Legal Defense Fund & Educational Fund (LDF), and the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA).