Sunday, April 8, 2018

Can I Bring My Support Peacock on the Airplane?

Ok so now that I have your attention....

There is a difference between the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA, the Fair Housing Act and the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA). The peacock, whose name is Dexter according to news articles, along with his owner were denied boarding a flight in January 2018. Whether or not the request to bring Dexter and the subsequent denial were appropriate is a question for the ADA and ACAA. For the purposes of this post, let's consider whether a housing provider would be required to allow Dexter to live with his owner. The answer isn't simple. There are many moving parts.

The Fair Housing Act requires housing providers to make "reasonable accommodations" and "reasonable modifications" for persons with disabilities to enable those persons to have an equal opportunity to use and enjoy the premises.

The Act defines a person with a disability to include individuals with a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities. It also includes individuals who are regarded as having such an impairment and individuals with a record of such an impairment. If you want to get into the details such as defining substantially, or major life activity see HUD's Memorandum on Reasonable Accommodations, question #3.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Seven Days

50 years ago today, April 4th, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. 7 days later, April 11th, Lyndon Johnson signed into law the Civil Rights Act of 1968. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 is commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act (FHA). 

It is an unfortunate fact of our history that the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. brought about passage of the Fair Housing Act. The video  provides a captivating overview of that one week in April 1968. It was created 5 years ago for the 45th anniversary. I challenge you to watch it and not notice the similarities between then and now. 

Without the Fair Housing portion, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 might have passed much sooner. At the time of its consideration, public sentiment was roughly 150-1 against the inclusion of Fair Housing legislation. The chairman of the House Rules Committee would not allow it to be voted on. Many believe the bill was passed only as an attempt to quell the rioting that followed the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Approximately, one hour after Martin Luther King, Jr. was buried the law was finally voted out of committee.

The video begins with a voice over "Few in our time believed that Fair Housing would, in our time, become the unchallenged law of this land". However, as many know, it has not gone unchallenged. To this day, many resist allowing everyone to make their own choice of where to live. Enforcement of the act was marginal in the first 20 years after its passage. Some say HUD did not make full use of the enforcement provisions provided and others say the Act did not give HUD enough to work with. Finally, in 1988, the Fair Housing Act Amendments provided for testing and enforcement with stiffer penalties. 1988 also brought about the addition of Families with Children and Persons with Disabilities to the 'protected classes'. 

Coming soon: Accommodations for persons with disabilities; what is a disability; how testing works; the effect of criminal background checks on discrimination. 

Follow up to my first post on this subject: Earlier this week, I was in a meeting a local Fair Housing event. The organizing group wanted the Realtor Association to provide them with a speaker for their panel. The group specifically asked that the speaker be "from a protected class". (Insert work appropriate eye roll here). I had to speak up and remind everyone that we are all members of a protected class and what they should be looking for is a diverse panel. One that represents as many different 'classes' as possible. My co-worker, the liaison to the group, offered to go back and ask if they could tell us how we could contribute to the diversity of the panel. 

To be clear, I agree that there is such a thing as white privilege and that many of us, me included, have it easier because of the color of our skin and other protections. However, as a society, we have to move away from the us vs them mentality. There are a lot of imbalances and we need to work hard to correct them. Acknowledging our privilege is a start. But rather than stepping out of the way we should be using our voices to lead the way. 

Keep smiling keep moving

Sunday, April 1, 2018

What Does Equal Opportunity in Housing Mean?

*Race * Color * Religion * Sex * Disability * Familial Status * National Origin

These are the 7 'protected' classes under the Federal Fair Housing Act. In broad terms, according to the act, it is illegal to discriminate in the sale, rental, and financing of housing, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status and disability.

Think about that for a minute.

And now think of all the people you know that fit into at least one of those categories. Go ahead, I'll wait while you think about it.

Do you see where I'm going with this?
Everyone, everywhere fits into at least one of those categories. 
In fact, most of us can identify with more than one. When we talk about fair housing or equal opportunity in housing it should be as simple as
"Every person should have the right to choose where they want to live and live there." 
The only limiting factor can be affordability. Every person everywhere should be able to say "If I can make the rent or mortgage payments, I can live there."

Period. End of Story.

Unfortunately, it isn't that simple, nor is it the end. The Fair Housing Act became necessary because individuals and institutions - both private and public - weren't allowing everyone to make their own housing choices. We've come a long way since then but not far enough.

In my 35+ years in various roles in the real estate industry, I've discovered that I have a passion for equal opportunity in housing. I've studied it, lived it and tried to share what I know with others. In honor of the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, I'm dedicating some of my blog posts this month to messaging about equal opportunity in housing.

The Fair Housing Act was signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on April 11, 1968. It's not a coincidence that 2018 is also the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. (April 4, 1968). More on that in another post.

Some housing providers argue that the Fair Housing law is unfair to them. That the law makes them do things they don't want to do or shouldn't have to do. This is why I much prefer the term "equal opportunity in housing". It isn't about being fair it's about making sure that every person has the opportunity to live where they want to live regardless of who they are, what they believe or where they come from.

Keep Smiling Keep Moving

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Forbidden Drive

Today, 4 of us and Freya walked along Forbidden Drive and the Wissahickon Creek. The sunshine was a welcome reprieve from the rain and gloom that fell yesterday.

Today's walk/hike was about time. The plan was 1.5 hours out and back for a total of 3. I over estimated our willingness to get started right away so my alarm had us turning around after 1 hour and 35 minutes. Our total time on our feet ended up being 3 hours and 20 minutes. Do the math and you see that it took us 10 minutes longer in the return distance. Considering the natural tendency to slow down as the miles grow, and a much needed restroom break at Valley Green on the way back, we did well.

Our pace on the hills of the Horse-Shoe Trail will be slower and we will tire faster as a result. We were also bolstered by the I think we are on a good path to do well and have fun on our June 23rd adventure. 

On today's hike, I learned more about Sara's summer time trip to Alaska; that Martiza's daughter works for NASA (how cool is that!); how Martiza and her husband met (if you know her, ask her sometime it's a cute story) and that Freya has two speeds (Giddyup and saunter and not much in between).

Keep smiling and keep moving.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Misery and Joy in the SNOW .....

The snow in this photo is newly fallen.
on the 4th day of SPRING!!!  
..... on March 25th!! With 4 Nor'easters in Pennsylvania - all in the month of March - snow was to be expected on the trail today. What was not expected was hiking in a steady more than a flurry of snowfall. I felt stuck in a roller coaster of emotions from "Wow! This is so pretty.? to "Um, this is nuts. It's SPRING. Enough already." I would have been caught in more of the former if it hadn't been for the wind in places.

This was hike #2 in preparation of our long hike on June 23rd. Our hike lasted just under 2 hours and covered approximately 4.5 miles. We started going up and over Mount Joy from the Knox HQ Parking lot. Then crossed over route 252 to return via Mount Misery. The story of Mount Misery and Mount Joy names is allegedly (emphasis on allegedly)

"William Penn went with some associates to negotiate with the Indians near the Susquehanna. Returning they took a short cut, got lost, and had to spend a miserable night lost on a mountain. The next morning they went off the mountain and up another mountain where they recognized where they were. The first mountain was thereby named Mount Misery and the second one Mount Joy." For the source of this quote and some history of Valley Forge Mountain, click here
Today's group included Sara, Mike and his dog Freya, Julius, Kathy, and Maritza. Kathy and Maritza.

Next week we will go out and back on Forbidden Drive for a total of 3 hours. 

Keep smiling and keep moving