Fair housing is the right to choose housing or to obtain a loan or insurance free from unlawful discrimination. Unlawful discrimination is treating someone or a group of people in an unfair or adverse way because of their race, ethnicity or other protected class status.
The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on the following 7 protected class categories:
Some local ordinances include additional protected class categories. For example, the City of Detroit’s fair housing ordinance includes 3 additional categories:
Almost all kinds of residential housing are covered, including private housing, public housing, and housing that receives federal funding. These types of housing include single and multi-family homes, apartment building, condominiums, cooperative units, homeless shelters, nursing homes, school dormitories, rehabilitative group homes, mobile home parks, timeshares and other places where people sleep.
Temporary housing, such as hotels, motels, hospitals, bed and breakfast facilities, are covered under laws that prohibit discrimination in places of public accommodation.
Anyone can bring a fair housing claim. Successful fair housing claims have been filed by one or more individuals, neighbors, corporations and partnerships, real estate agents and brokers, membership organizations such as the NAACP, HUD, state and local agencies, and housing developers.
It is illegal to engage in any of the following actions because of race, color, religion, sex, disability, familial status, national origin or other protected class categories:
Fair housing guarantees that all persons, regardless of their background, family situation, sex, ethnicity or other factors, have the right to choose housing that best serve their needs—free from prejudices and stereotypes. Fair housing opens doors of housing opportunity, resulting in diverse and vibrant communities.
Fair housing also enhances neighborhood stability, leading to economic development. People who feel welcome in a neighborhood are more likely to make it a permanent home and, in turn, invest resources back into the community.