Fair housing in the United States has been a hot topic recently, with the recent election of President Barack Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder making the issue of racial discrimination in housing seem more relevant than ever. However, many Americans don’t realize that their fair housing rights are already being violated without them even knowing it. In other words, although the civil rights of minorities have been under attack over the past several years, people who are in an inferior or disadvantaged situation can still file a lawsuit against those who discriminate in housing.
Fair housing laws date back to at least the late 1960s, but they became much more robust after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Since then, housing discrimination has generally been against both minorities and other groups of people. However, this is changing as more minorities are becoming a greater part of American society.
Discrimination in housing today can take many forms, but most involve different levels of discrimination. Discrimination in housing occurs when a person, group, or organization fails to provide an equal opportunity for all persons to be a part of its society. For example, if one group of people are offered different rules regarding the use of restrooms, then this is considered discrimination. This includes situations where a group of people in one part of town are denied access to a particular facility because of their race, gender, or sexual orientation.
There are two main types of discrimination in housing, intentional and unintentional. Intentional discrimination takes place when people intentionally try to keep other people from being able to live in or purchase a house or apartment. Intentional discrimination often results from things such as the failure to maintain a certain minimum amount of amenities. For instance, many people who own large apartments have failed to make sure that there is enough laundry, and there are not enough qualified employees. Intentional discrimination can also occur when an individual or a group tries to exclude another group of people based on a certain characteristic, such as age, religion, or sexual orientation.
Intentional discrimination also takes place when a person, group, or organization does not provide access to certain programs or services that are essential to its operations. This can include things as basic as having to having a trash pickup service, or the ability to pay for public transportation. For example, if a group of people in an apartment complex is not allowed to use the local library, or the public school’s gym because they don’t belong to a certain religion, then this is discrimination. This may not always occur, however, and most communities are willing to accommodate those who want to have these types of facilities because the alternative places help with social activities.
Intentional discrimination can also occur when people refuse to rent or lease homes to those who have lower incomes or those who have disabilities. Those who have disabilities, such as HIV/AIDS patients or those who are physically disabled, are routinely refused a chance to rent or lease a home because of their disability. The type of disability that is used in this case is the fact that they have a disability, which makes them more likely to be less qualified than others to handle a given task, such as a lawn mowing. However, if the house is too expensive for a person with a disability to afford to pay, then this type of discrimination is not considered discrimination; rather, it is considered an economic disadvantage.