December 04, 2020

Kaine, Colleagues Introduce Legislation to Strengthen Fair Housing Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tim Kaine joined Senator Catherine Cortez Masto and their colleagues to introduce legislation  that would take steps to fight housing discrimination. The Housing Fairness Act of 2020 would reaffirm the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development’s commitment to fair housing by increasing funding for fair housing programs, making improvements to the Fair Housing Initiatives Program, reinstating the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing Rule, and providing additional funds for research into housing discrimination.

“As a former fair housing lawyer, I’ve seen firsthand the impact housing has on a family’s health and stability,” Kaine said. “Especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure all Americans have equal access to affordable and safe housing.”

Since its passage in 1968, the Fair Housing Act has given government the ability to remedy and resolve housing discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, disability, and familial status. However, housing discrimination remains a widespread problem in the United States. Fair housing complaints have remained steady over the past years, with 28,880 complaints in 2019. The Trump Administration has weakened fair housing protections and rescinded efforts to eliminate segregation. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to exacerbate housing discrimination, since communities of color face disproportionate economic effects that may cause them to move and face discrimination.

Kaine began his career as a lawyer specializing in the representation of people who had been denied housing due to their race, disability, or family status. He has continued to advocate for fair housing in the Senate. In 2019, Kaine reintroduced the Fair Housing Improvement Act of 2019 to protect veterans and low-income families from housing discrimination.

The legislation was also cosponsored by Senators Ron Wyden (D-OR), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR). The Housing Fairness Act of 2020 was first introduced in the House of Representatives by Congressman Al Green (D-TX-9). 

The full text of the bill is available here.