Many companies featured on Money advertise with us. Opinions are our own, but compensation and
in-depth research may determine where and how companies appear. Learn more about how we make money.

Getty Images

More than a half century after its passage, a landmark law promoting residential integration is being undermined by political attacks.

Intended as a follow-up to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Fair Housing Act was signed by President Lyndon Johnson on April 11, 1968, days after the assassination of Martin Luther King. The legislation has two main purposes: to prevent housing discrimination and to promote diverse communities.

Last month, the Trump Administration set off alarm bells when it repealed the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulation. The Obama-era rule sought to reinforce the 1968 law by requiring cities to more rigorously examine local housing patterns for racial segregation and come up with plans to address any measurable bias.

After the Department of Housing and Urban Development terminated the rule in late July, President Trump tweeted:

The administration claimed local governments have been overburdened by AFFH requirements. Fair housing advocates have condemned the action. “The government helped create entrenched, pernicious residential segregation and has an obligation to undo it,” said Nikitra Bailey, executive vice president at the Center for Responsible Lending. “By rejecting the Fair Housing Act’s mission to dismantle segregation and the inequity it created, this administration is eschewing its responsibility and will be on the wrong side of history.”

Discriminatory housing practices have reinforced systemic racism in America since the Jim Crow era. Before 1968, landlords and real estate agents could legally deny someone a rental unit or home because of race. A bank could deny a mortgage based on the homebuyer’s skin color or a neighborhood’s racial mix. Zoning and land-use restrictions could be designed to keep people of color out.