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Federal Fair Housing Laws

The federal fair housing laws are a collection of seven different laws that were enacted over a 100-year time period. These laws are:


Civil Rights Act of 1866, which prohibits discrimination based on race.


Fair Housing Act of 1968 (Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968), which prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion or national origin.


Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. Any housing that receives federal funds, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly (such as loan guarantees), falls within the scope of this Act.


Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, which prohibits discrimination in housing based upon sex.


Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974, which prohibits discrimination in lending based upon race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, marital status, and because a person is depending on public assistance income. Note that ECOA only applies to mortgage lending and not to other aspects of housing.


Fair Housing Amendments of 1988, which amended the Fair Housing Act of 1968 by prohibiting discrimination in housing based upon disability or familial status which refers to the presence of child under 18 and pregnant women). The 1988 amendment also created an exemption to the provisions barring discrimination based upon familial status for those housing developments that qualify as housing for persons age 55 or older. The Act also strengthened the administrative and judicial enforcement process for HUD complaints and provided monetary penalties in cases where housing discrimination is found.


Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities in all services, programs and activities made available by State and local governments, including those that do not receive Federal financial assistance.


The Housing for Older Persons Act of 1995 (HOPA), made several changes to the fifty-five and older exemption provided for in the 1988 Amendments to the Fair Housing Act.


The federal fair housing laws protect seven classes of individual from discrimination they are:


  1. Race
  2. Color
  3. Country of national origin
  4. Religion
  5. Sex
  6. Handicapped individuals (disability)
  7. Familial Status (families with children under 18 and pregnant women)


Federal fair housing laws are the basic laws which apply throughout the United States. States and local jurisdictions are free to enact laws protecting additional classes of citizens from discrimination.


Oregon Fair Housing Laws

  

Oregon primarily relies upon the federal fair housing law for discrimination cases within its borders. However, Oregon has enacted legislation relating to fair housing anti-discrimination with respect to the following threes classes of individuals:


Marital Status: No discrimination in the purchase or rental of housing in Oregon based upon marital status is permitted. This means that two single people living together cannot be discriminated against if they are not married.


Source of Income: No discrimination is permitted against a purchaser or rental applicant because of that person's source of income. As a result, a landlord cannot deny housing to an individual because their source of income is derived from government assistance, etc. The landlord may consider the adequacy of the income to support the rent, but cannot consider the source.


Sexual Orientation: The 2007 Oregon Legislature enacted legislation protecting gays and lesbians. As a result, Oregon has joined a number of other states in prohibiting discrimination based upon sexual preference and in establishing domestic partnerships. The Oregon Family Fairness Act, HB 2007, grants legal rights to same-sex couples who register their partnership with the state. The Oregon Equality ACT, prohibits discrimination against Oregonians because of real or perceived sexual orientation. This bill strictly prohibits that practice except in certain closely defined religious circumstances.