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Petra Celebrates National Fair Housing Month

by | Apr 24, 2024 | General News

image celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. Day


April is National Fair Housing Month, and as fair housing is at the core of what we do here at Petra, we want to take a moment to commemorate this milestone in U.S. history.

This year marks the 56th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on April 11, 1968, making discrimination in housing transactions unlawful.

Intended as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the bill’s original purpose was to extend federal protection to civil rights workers but was further expanded to prohibit discrimination in housing on the grounds of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, (and as amended) familial status, and disability.

The enactment of the bill was not an easy path and came only after a long and difficult journey through contentious debates in the Senate. From 1966-1967 Congress regularly considered the fair housing bill but could never garner a strong enough majority for it to pass.

When Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968, however, that event became a key catalyst in pushing the bill through. Dr. King’s name had become closely associated with fair housing legislation following the 1966 open housing marches in Chicago. President Johnson viewed the Fair Housing Act as a fitting memorial to Dr. King’s life work and wanted to have the Act passed prior to King’s funeral in Atlanta.

Amid the national tragedy of cities rioting after Dr. King’s assassination, President Johnson urged Congressional leaders to support the bill, and the House of Representatives subsequently passed the Fair Housing Act. With no further debate, the Senate followed the House in its passage of the Act, and President Johnson then signed it into law on April 11, 1968.

The impact of the Act began to be felt immediately in a growing number of neighborhoods and urban cores. The tradition of celebrating Fair Housing Month, initially led by HUD, grew larger and larger, with cities, schools, and regions across the nation taking part in remembering the spirit behind the original passage of the Act.

Considered the greatest legislative achievement of the civil rights movement, the Fair Housing Act serves as a reminder to us all that the principle of fair housing is not just state and national law, but a fundamental human concept to which all people should be entitled.

Petra’s mission continues to be to “Strengthen communities by creating affordable housing and empowering our residents for a quality living experience.” We are able to do that through the use of fair housing practices – those same practices that were put forth in the Fair Housing Act all those years ago. Please join us in celebrating Fair Housing Month throughout April.