Housing discrimination

What is housing discrimination?

Housing discrimination is the illegal practice of discriminating against buyers or renters of dwellings based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, family status or disability.

Deeper definition

In the U.S., the earliest forms of housing discrimination took place following the abolishment of slavery. Landowners would create segregation rules that included raising the price of the property to former slaves to prevent them from buying or renting land in the community.

In 1917, the Supreme Court ruled that these practices were unconstitutional and considered illegal acts.

Social, political and economic groups that emerged in the early 1900s brought about new forms of segregation and discrimination. People were being denied the ability to buy or rent homes and land based on their religious beliefs, sex, nationality, family status and disabilities.

Noticing the housing discrimination that was taking place throughout the country and its effects on the work market, the U.S. Housing Authority was established in the early 1930s. This nationally funded group was meant to improve public housing conditions for low-income Americans.

However, the act of discriminating against people based on the aforementioned factors still was taking place.

Congress passed the Fair Housing Act in 1968, which addressed the continued problem of segregation. The act is rooted into both the 13th and 14th Amendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The act set specific guidelines that were meant to prevent people from being denied fair and equal treatment when buying or renting dwellings or property.

Housing discrimination example

Even with all the legal practices that were in place to prevent housing discrimination through the years, this illegal act continues to be a problem in communities throughout the country today.

In recent years, veteran status and sexual orientation have been included factors for discrimination. Measures have been taken to further target housing discrimination and abolish the problem without complete success.

The following is an example of a recent housing discrimination case the U.S. Supreme Court has heard.

In 2014, Carlo Gimenez Bianco alleged that Castillo Condominium Association and Carlos Toro Vizcarrondo refused to rent him an apartment. Bianco claimed he was denied living accommodations due to non-pet policies. Bianco additionally stated that he had a service dog that provided him treatment for an emotional disorder. The courts found in favor of Bianco.

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