Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. began speaking out about the importance of housing in one of his last campaigns in 1966. He marched on the streets of Chicago side-by-side with African-American tenants to demand better living conditions and an end to discrimination in housing sales and loans. On April 11, 1968, one week after the assassination of Dr. King, the federal government passed the Fair Housing Act, a law created to end housing discrimination in all its forms. In addition to commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, this edition of Tenant Talk will explore how far we have come and how far we have yet to go in making housing accessible, affordable, and safe for all.
Although the Fair Housing Act attempted to fix mass inequalities in housing, many of those same inequalities still exist today. Nevertheless, the current administration has moved with quick and deliberate speed to dismantle the rules and regulations that protect disadvantaged communities. Residents and advocates from communities all across the country have joined forces to tell the current administration that enough is enough. Some challenged HUD Secretary Ben Carson in court for his efforts to dismantle fair housing rules and regulations, others held unique advocacy events during NLIHC’s annual Our Homes, Our Voices National Housing Week of Action, and others launched new campaigns to combat hate and discrimination in their communities.
This edition of Tenant Talk highlights the local actions of advocates to fight discrimination in their communities, as well as the national fights that other organizations are pursuing. You’ll learn about ways to advocate on your own turf through the examples of others and proven advocacy models. This edition also shares the stories of housing advocates who ran for public office and won. Representation in politics can go far in terms of creating long-lasting change.
Many have come before us in the fight for fair and equitable housing and we must continue their work. Every person deserves access to a safe, decent, and affordable home. Every person also deserves access to communities with resources that allow them to thrive. Like Dr. King and the tenants of Chicago, we can move the world in this direction if we dare to stand up and take action in our own communities.
Tenant Talk Editorial Board