Fair Housing Rights!
A Brief Summary
What does Fair Housing Mean?
Federal, State, and Local laws prohibit housing discrimination based on the categories listed below. The laws cover housing for rent or sale, advertising, lending, insurance, steering, redlining and hate crimes. Remedies for illegal discrimination include injunctive relief, monetary damages, and penalties. It means that Federal, state, and local laws prohibit discriminate concerning sales and rental of housing based on a person’s protected class including race, color, religion, national origin, citizenship, age, etc. California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA)
In California, virtually every unit of housing for sale or rent is covered under the fair housing laws. The California, Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) states housing discrimination is illegal based on the same criteria as the federal laws, and include additional criteria such as: marital status
Physical Disability (HIV & AIDS included)
Source of Income
Examples of California Legislation
Rumford Fair Housing Act
In the early 60’s, California assemblyman William Byron Rumford, a democrat, sponsored a fair housing initiative that helped put an end to racial discrimination that “colored” people faced from property owners and landlords. Rumford was the first African American to serve in the state
legislature, representing Northern California. In 1963 California passed The Rumford Fair Housing. The Act provided that landlords could not deny people housing because of ethnicity, religion, sex, marital status, physical handicap, or familial status. What really makes Rumford significant is that his surname has come to serve as the one-word identification of the most bitterly fought issue in the nation’s most populous state. California Proposition 14 (1964)
California Proposition 14 was a 1964 ballot proposition that amended the California state constitution, nullifying the Rumford Fair Housing Act. The decision of the California Supreme Court was affirmed by the Supreme Court in 1967 in Reitman v. Mulkey.
The initiative was to add an amendment to the constitution of California. This amendment would provide, in part, as follows:
“Neither the State nor any subdivision or agency thereof shall deny, limit or abridge, directly or indirectly, the right of any person, who is willing or desires to sell, lease or rent any part or all of his real property, to decline to sell, lease or rent such property to such person or persons as he, in his absolute discretion, chooses.” Following much publicity the proposition gained the endorsement of many large conservative political groups, the initiative proved to be overwhelmingly popular, and was passed by a 65% majority vote in the 1964 California elections. Soon after it was passed, the federal government cut off all housing funds to California. Many also cited this as one of the reasons the 1965 Watts Riots happened, because Proposition 14 gives landlords the right to deny housing based on ethnicity, religion, sex, marital status, physical handicap, or familial status as they wish. With the federal housing funds cut off and with the support of Pat Brown, Governor at the time, the constitutionality of the measure was challenged shortly afterward. In 1966, the California Supreme Court did not consider whether Proposition 14 was unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection and due process provisions of the California Constitution; alternatively, it held that Proposition 14 violated the equal protection clause of the federal Constitution’s 14th Amendment. Governor Brown’s
position on the issue proved controversial, and later in 1966, he was defeated by Ronald Reagan in his bid for re-election. However, the case continued. The U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the California Supreme Court’s decision in Reitman v. Mulkey (1967), holding that Proposition 14 was invalid because it violated the equal protection clause. The proposition was repealed by Proposition 7 in the November, 1974 election. Reitman established a significant precedent because it held that state assistance or encouragement of private discrimination violated the equal protection guarantee of the Fourteenth Amendment. As of 2013, this precedent remains good law. Local Fair Housing Resources
The Los Angeles Housing Department
The Los Angeles Housing Department in conjunction with the Southern California Housing Rights Center and the federal enforce fair housing laws; conduct training, outreach and compliance Monitoring. The department works closely with state and local agencies to provide and administer citywide fair housing programs. Following are some of the services that are provided: Investigations of housing discrimination complaints concerning housing for rent or sale, advertising, lending, insurance, steering, blockbusting and hate crimes Remedies for valid complaints, including conciliations, legal action and administrative referrals to state and federal fair housing agencies Multilingual counseling on fair housing and predatory lending issues Multilingual property owner, manager and realtor training sessions Educational seminars, workshops and presentations on fair housing Citizens are advised to report suspected discrimination immediately and keep a record of any meetings and phone calls with the landlord, property manager, real estate agent, loan officer, or insurance agent. Include the person’s name, title (if you know it), the meeting place, date, and time. It is requested that one make notes on what happened and what was said. Save all receipts, applications, business cards, or other documents received during your meeting(s), and any advertisements.
Fair Housing Terms and Usage
•“Sex” is defined to include gender identity. As an example, a housing provider may not discriminate on the basis that a male tenant whom is a
“cross dresser.” “Sex” may also include, any medical conditions related to pregnancy and childbirth. •“Familial status” means anyone under age 18 residing with a parent, legal guardian, or designee of the parent or legal guardian with the parent’s or legal guardian’s written consent. Familial status also applies to persons who are pregnant and to persons who are in the process of gaining legal custody of an individual under the age of 18. •“Source of income” means lawful, verifiable income paid directly to the tenant or to the tenant’s representative. It is not illegal for a housing provider to ask amount or source of a tenant’s income. •“Disability” is a disease, disorder, or condition limiting a major life activity. The definition of disability, for purposes of discrimination, includes having a disability, having a record or history of such a disability, or being regarded or treated as having such a disability. •“Sexual orientation” means heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality. •“Race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, ancestry, familial status, source of income, or disability” includes a perception that the person has any of those characteristics or that the person is associated with a person who has, or is perceived to have, any of those characteristics. References
“Proposition 14”. Time Magazine. September 25, 1964. Retrieved 2008-01-15. Robert O. Self (2003). American Babylon: Race and the Struggle for Postwar Oakland. p. 168. ISBN 0-691-07026-1.
California Voter’s Pamphlet, General Election, November 5, 1974
Fair Housing Amendments Act, 42 U.S.C. 3601
Fair Employment and Housing Act, Cal. Gov. Code sec. 12955, et seq.
Americans with Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. 12101 et seq.
Unruh Civil Rights Act, Cal. Civil Code sec. 51 et seq.
64 al. 2d 529 (1966)