2/6/2023 in News & Media, Press Releases



February 6, 2023

Contact: iwoodruff@nationalfairhousing.org

Washington, D.C. — Today, Lisa Rice, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), issued the following statement in recognition of Black History Month:

“Black History Month is a time to reflect on the progress, pain, and contributions Black Americans have made here at home and around the world. Despite our nation’s founding principles of freedom and liberty for all, the atrocious system of holding Black people against their will in chattel slavery helped establish the U.S. as a world leader. Yet, the sale and trade of Black bodies and generations of surgically precise public policies and private actions to restrict, segregate and contain Black people, denied Black Americans their humanity and access to citizenship and opportunity. Despite these systemic barriers, Black Americans relentlessly strived to make America live up to its ideals as a nation. Now, during the Third Reconstruction, Black people continue to be champions for equity in all aspects of American life while the nexus between unjust and discriminatory housing continues to be reflected in our economic, justice, health, environmental, employment, infrastructure, and education systems.  

“Fifty-five years have passed since the Kerner Commission released its groundbreaking report showing, ‘Our nation is moving toward two societies: one black and one white- -separate and unequal.’  It has also been 55 years since Congress passed the Fair Housing Act, just seven days after the horrific assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Still, the journey towards more fair housing and equitable opportunities continues, most recently with the Biden-Harris administration’s pending release of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing proposed rule and a Blueprint for Renters Bill of Rights that considers equity and fairness and the distinction between fairness and affordability.

“The racial homeownership gap is as wide today as it was when the Fair Housing Act was passed in 1968 and today, Black households own about 4% of wealth in the US, only slightly more than they owned in 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation officially ended slavery in the states that had seceded from the Union.

“Racial bias and unjust systems in the housing and lending markets continue to exclude or underserve Black people—from undervaluing homes in Black neighborhoods to perpetuating unfair mortgage, lending, credit, and tax assessments. Discriminatory data and algorithms perpetuate bias through unfair tenant screening, credit scoring, automated underwriting, risk-based pricing, and other systems that reinforce the history of residential segregation. The inequities baked into our economy, and the reverberating affect our nation’s discriminatory housing policies still have, showcase why equity-based initiatives, such as first-generation down payment assistance and special purpose credit programs, and protections from source of income discrimination are crucial for opening doors to housing and credit access.

“Where you live influences the resources you can access, including well-resourced schools, reliable transit options, clean water, fresh air, healthy foods, access to quality healthcare, and living-wage jobs.

“A whole-of-government, comprehensive, national housing strategy is needed to develop a fair and affordable housing market and curb housing’s outsized role in inflation. A bold plan is needed to jumpstart economic growth and ensure equitable opportunities for individuals and families of color.

“Fair and equitable housing can be transformational, creating new promises for future generations. As we recognize Black History Month this year, we will continue honoring the legacies of the millions of Black people who have worked to make our nation more perfect and fairer. By dismantling the policy monuments to injustice that dot America’s housing and lending frameworks, we can take steps to reverse the generational harms of our nation’s original sin and foster a society where every neighborhood has the resources it needs to help all of us thrive.”


About the National Fair Housing Alliance

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is the country’s only national civil rights organization dedicated solely to eliminating all forms of housing and lending discrimination and ensuring equal opportunities for all people. As the trade association for over 170 fair housing and justice-centered organizations and individuals throughout the U.S. and its territories, NFHA works to dismantle longstanding barriers to equity and build diverse, inclusive, well-resourced communities.