On April 11, 1968—seven days after the assassination of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.—President Lyndon Johnson signed into law Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, commonly known as the Fair Housing Act. The legislation was co-sponsored by then-Senators Edward Brooke and Walter Mondale and advanced an ambitious and progressive vision: to eliminate housing discrimination and residential segregation in this country. As envisioned, the Fair Housing Act is an important tool for achieving both justice and equity. In signing the bill, President Johnson proclaimed: “At long last, fair housing for all is now a part of the American way of life.” We have come some of the way—not near all of it.
The year 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act. Fair housing is not just an important tool for eliminating discrimination; it also helps to strengthen families, communities, businesses, and our overall economy. Fulfillment of the letter and spirit of the law means that every community can be a place of opportunity where people can live in diverse, inclusive, accessible neighborhoods with quality schools, healthy foods, meaningful jobs, health care, green spaces, quality credit, and the other opportunities that frame and affect our lives.