The Civil Rights Act of 1866 guaranteed property rights to all, regardless of race. It was another hundred years before any real change in fair housing came about, with the passage of the federal Fair Housing Act – Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which added color, national origin, religion and sex. The Fair Housing Act represented the culmination of years of congressional consideration of housing discrimination legislation. Its legislative history spanned the urban riots of 1967, the release of the Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders (the Kerner Commission Report, which concluded that America was moving toward two societies, separate and unequal), and the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. In 1988, President Reagan signed the Fair Housing Amendments Act, adding two more protected classes – families with children and people with disabilities, strengthening the administrative and judicial enforcement process for U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) complaints, and providing monetary penalties in cases where housing discrimination is found to have occurred.
A housing discrimination complaint requires that:
- Complainant is a member of a Protected Class
- Housing related act(s) of harm
- Nexus between the Complainant’s Protected Class and the act of harm