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ICYMI – Ranking Member Waters' Op-ed: “Dear America, it’s Time to Fulfill the Promises of the Fair Housing Act.”

As Fair Housing Month draws to a close, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), the top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee, published an opinion piece for The Grio reflecting on the ongoing legacy of housing discrimination and inequality 56 years after the Fair Housing Act was signed into law. In the op-ed, Waters calls for long-overdue investments in fair and affordable housing and equitable community development to help finally fulfill the promises of the Fair Housing Act for all Americans and address our nation’s worsening housing and homelessness crisis.

Read excerpts of the piece below:

Over the years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and local fair housing organizations have received record-breaking levels of reported housing discrimination complaints each year, including over 33,000 in 2022 alone. However, we know that discrimination goes woefully underreported. In 2018, at least 1 in 4 people, or 68 million, believed they had been treated differently in their search for housing because of their status as a member of a protected class under the Fair Housing Act.

Other barriers, such as redlining, exclusionary zoning and land use ordinances, continue to lock members of protected classes out of equitable housing opportunities. Many communities across the country are also more segregated today than they were in 1990, which further entrenches poverty and wealth and homeownership gaps across racial and ethnic lines. Indeed, Black and Latinx renters are twice as likely to face eviction compared to white renters and are overrepresented among the homeless population. Our nation also faces widening racial wealth and homeownership gaps with the average net worth of homeowners — who are more likely to be white — 40 times greater than that of renters. Meanwhile, for people with disabilities, integrated and accessible housing opportunities are severely limited, with data showing that less than 1% of homes in the U.S. are wheelchair accessible and just 5% are accessible to people with moderate disabilities. We have even seen some local governments continue to use federal housing and community funds in discriminatory ways that violate the Fair Housing Act.

…Last year, I reintroduced my historic housing package to continue building on our efforts, including the “Housing Crisis Response Act,” the “Ending Homelessness Act,” and the “Downpayment Toward Equity Act.” Together, these bills represent the single largest and most comprehensive investment in fair and affordable housing in U.S. history. I call on our nation’s leaders to work with me to help deliver on the urgent need to end the U.S. housing crisis and fulfill the promise of fair housing for all.


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