What is home?
Perhaps it’s a front porch at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac. Perhaps it’s at the second door, up the stairs and to the left. Perhaps it’s in the chair that you once read books upon your mother’s lap. Perhaps it’s in a backyard, where imagination took shape. Perhaps it’s built by brick or painted in purple. Perhaps it has four walls or open fences. Perhaps it’s moved from one place to another.
Perhaps home never was.
While home and housing speak from two distinct anthropologies, housing – the opportunity and accessibility of it – is a direct connect to home. It is precisely tied to community, to learning, to belonging, to living. Housing is the construct by which we can live and prosper through its connection to relationships, education, employment, security and safety.
Without the construct of housing, what pillars in your life fall? What does “home” look like then? And, yet, for so many – home never was because housing never was. Housing never was accessible. Housing never was affordable. Housing never was decent, safe, secure.
Housing never was.
While we arrived at the Fair Housing Act of 1968, we continue to build a society capable of upholding its intentions – 53 years later. Race. Color. Religion. National origin. Sex. Disability. Family Status. These are all pass or fail indicators for so many in search of housing. These are all price adjusters in negotiations, rental and sell prices. These are all risk factors in financing and put a new lens on credit analysis. These change the criteria, amend the terms, delay procedures, limit services, and give cause for absolute refusal.
If housing is a core component of home and all areas tied to it, then so too are the injustices that continue to take equality out of housing. If over 50 years of “fair housing” has taught us anything, it is that it is simply not enough to not discriminate. It has not been enough to simply not allow segregation. We must take seriously our promise to fair housing by supporting efforts to unite communities.
What will home look like in another 53 years? What will housing become? Will it be the output of a fight for equality and justice, or will it be a stagnant result of awareness without action?
Learn more about Fair Housing online at HUD.gov. If you believe you may have experienced discrimination in housing, you can file a complaint with HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO).