The release of the Kerner Report and the passage of the Fair Housing Act occurred in 1968. Spurred by race-related unrest that broke out in more than 100 U.S. cities between 1965 and 1968, the Kerner Report denounced the structural barriers to economic equality afflicting black communities in the United States. The report pointed to the role of white racism and the pervasive discrimination against and segregation of African Americans in housing, employment, and education in the creation and perpetuation of two societies: “one black, one white—separate and unequal.” The Fair Housing Act and Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act were meant to eliminate overt discrimination and disparities in the housing market and ultimately end residential segregation. Specifically, it prohibited discrimination in the sale or rental of housing; the financing of housing; and the provision of brokerage services based on a person’s inclusion in a protected class, including race, color, and national origin.
Despite the economic and political gains that African Americans have achieved since the passage of the Civil Rights Act, significant disparities still exist between African Americans and non-Hispanic whites in terms of access to homeownership, quality education, and employment, among other assets. These disparities are reflected in persisting residential segregation and a racially segmented housing market—and they have significant implications for African Americans’ economic mobility. Segregation, disparate access to credit and homeownership, and the consistent devaluation of homes in black neighborhoods combine to constrict the ability of African Americans to build equity and accumulate wealth through homeownership.
As in the case of the late 1960s our country has recently lived through a period of distasteful, painful, deep and bitter divisions in American society, and understandable social unrest. Consequently, I will re-double my commitment, as a real estate agent, to the following principles and mission:
• I welcome you and look forward to providing services to everyone.
• I will base my decision and opinions of you on who you are, not on any pre-conceived stereotypes or ingrained value judgments.
• I subscribe to the federal Fair Housing Act and its principles.
• I embrace and celebrate the strength that diversity brings to our communities and our nation.
• I will help you find opportunities to buy the home you choose.
• I will market home ownership to the public and reach out to people who may not know that home ownership is a realistic option.
• I will make sure you know there is a full range of housing choices available to you and encourage you to consider all communities and neighborhoods.
• I will make every effort to maintain open two-way communication. If we do not share a common language, I will work with you to find someone who can interpret.
• I have incorporated these principles in my daily operations and my overall business plan. I would be proud to share the plan with you.
• I am here to help you meet your real estate needs because you are the reason I am in business.
• Please let me know about any cultural or special needs that you have so that our business relationship will be comfortable and successful.
John E. Baer, SRES, SRS is a NYS licensed real estate salesperson associated with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Westchester Properties of Scarsdale and Larchmont. A member of the Berkshire Hathaway Diversity and Inclusion Committee, John has in the last three and a half years earned the month’s “Top Selling Award” nine times in the Scarsdale office. He can be reached for questions at 914/844-2059. His website is www.WestchesterHomes.info.