Required for Brokers and Managing Brokers Renewing their License
Welcome to the 3-hour Washington Real Estate Fair Housing course at RealEstateSchool.org. This interactive and informative course is designed to help real estate professionals in Washington State understand and adhere to the Fair Housing laws and regulations that impact their daily practice. This course is tailored specifically for real estate brokers and managing brokers who aim to provide their clients with the best service while ensuring equal opportunities in housing.
The United States has a long history of racial discrimination and segregation, which of course, includes housing. Many Americans throughout our history have been denied or restricted access to lending, neighborhoods where they could live, and financial programs. This has been true not only in the South but here in Washington State as well. Unfortunately, this course has to exist because of the history and issues that continue to this day.
Broadly, racism is prejudice or discrimination due to a person’s race. There are many types and ways to categorize racism, but we will focus on 4 types: structural, institutional, internalized, and interpersonal.
This policy of segregation is even more clear when you look at one of these maps.
The map was color-coded based on four gradations:
A (Best): These neighborhoods were typically affluent white areas that posed a minimal risk of default for banks. Ethnic homogeneity was one of the factors considered.
B (Still desirable): These neighborhoods were predominantly or entirely inhabited by white, US-born citizens and were deemed desirable by lenders.
C (Declining): These areas typically housed working-class families and first- or second-generation immigrants and often had older buildings.
D (Hazardous): This grade was frequently assigned to minority communities, including African-American, Mexican, Asian, and Jewish families.
Interpersonal racism refers to the racism that occurs between individuals and is often overt and well-publicized. This type of racism can include anything from hate crimes to housing discrimination, negative comments, and racial profiling. Due to its obvious nature, incidents of interpersonal racism are more likely to be reported in the media. However, it is important to note that many instances of interpersonal racism may go unreported and unnoticed.
Internalized racism can manifest in a couple of ways. For individuals who benefit from societal advantages rooted in historical events, media representation, and institutional power, internalized racism can lead to a sense of superiority and an inflated self-image. Conversely, those who are consistently disadvantaged may internalize negative attitudes that can impact their sense of self. This can result in cognitive dissonance and paternalism.
Discrimination takes two forms, direct and indirect, yet it's easier to recognize direct discrimination. Direct discrimination involves treating someone unfavorably because of who they are, such as a business refusing service based on sexual orientation.
Indirect discrimination, or "disparate impact," occurs when a policy or practice appears neutral, but has an adverse effect on particular individuals or groups, such as individuals with disabilities. Disparate impact is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits discrimination in the workplace. In the 1971 Griggs v. Duke Power Company case, African-American employees challenged intelligence tests as a job requirement, which had an indirect discriminatory impact. The Supreme Court ruled that job requirements must be related to the job and must not unintentionally exclude particular individuals or groups.
However, an employer may still institute policies that have an unfavorable impact on certain individuals or groups but must provide an objective justification for doing so.
Discrimination can occur in two ways: legally, through the implementation of official policies, or unofficially, without legal documentation. The Latin terms used to describe these concepts are "de jure" and "de facto." De jure refers to policies based on legal frameworks, while de facto refers to policies that are not officially described by law.
For example, segregation in the United States occurred legally through policies at the federal, state, and local levels, representing de jure discrimination. The policies of the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC) prevented minorities from purchasing homes by not insuring mortgages in their communities. The Federal Housing Administration's underwriting manual suggested using highways to separate white and African-American neighborhoods, which indirectly led to segregated communities.
De facto segregation occurred through social customs and practices. Private restrictive covenants, for instance, prevented the sale of properties to minorities in many cities, including Seattle, Spokane, and Tacoma. Despite efforts to reverse discriminatory policies through legal action, the Federal Housing Administration's word deliberately racist policies such as redlining and the sanctioning of racist covenants created large wealth gaps and limited opportunities. Historian Kenneth Jackson even argued that no agency had a more significant impact on the American public than the Federal Housing Administration in the past fifty years.
There are many historical zoning laws that state that minorities were not allowed to purchase homes in certain neighborhoods.
One example in Seattle is a gentleman by the name of Richard Ornstein. is a Jewish refugee who was attempting to buy a house at Sand Point Country Club in 1952. During the purchase process, it became apparent that the property had a deed restriction applied to the entire neighborhood which meant that homes could not be sold or rented to non-whites and people who were Jewish. Even though 1952 is after the 1948 ruling from the Supreme Court stating that racial covenants were not enforceable Mr. Ornstein chose not to move his family into the neighborhood after the head of the country club Commission pushed to stop the sale. As you might imagine Mr. Ornstein did not have the desire to move into a neighborhood that was so clearly against his presence.
Due to the adoption of deed restriction throughout Seattle in the 1920s and 30s including the neighborhood to the Capitol Hill Queen and Madison Park West Seattle and places around Lake Washington, it left minorities few places to live and essentially limited them to the central district and Chinatown.
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