Forty-eight years ago this month, on April 11, 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed the federal Fair Housing Act, which prohibited discrimination concerning the sale, rental, and financing of housing based on race, religion, national origin, sex, handicap and family status. This important law also made it unlawful for a housing provider to make, print or publish any statement or advertisement that states a preference based on these classes.
Every April, people across the United States are encouraged to learn more about their rights and responsibilities under the Fair Housing Act as a part of National Fair Housing Month. This year’s theme — “Shared Opportunity in Every Community” — urges all citizens to reach out into their communities and help those who are seeking to rent, own, buy or insure a home and educate them about their fair housing rights and how to take action if they suspect discrimination.
The Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) is your state agency charged with investigating cases of housing discrimination. Last year alone, the FCHR investigated and resolved 185 cases where housing discrimination was alleged. Even with the passage of the federal Act and the Florida Fair Housing Act in 1983, discrimination in housing still persists. The top five bases of discrimination are (in order of most to least): disability, race, national origin, familial status and sex.
As Acting Chair of the Commission, I appreciate the opportunity to share information with my fellow Floridians who have the power to fight housing discrimination. By contacting the FCHR, a local fair housing center or the U.S. Housing and Urban Development, you will be able to take the first step in that process. Remember, “Shared Opportunity in Every Community.”
If you feel you are a victim of housing discrimination, I urge you to contact the FCHR at 1-800-342-8170 or visit our website at http://fchr.state.fl.us/ and allow us the opportunity to assist you.
Rebecca Steele, Acting Chair
Florida Commission on Human Relations