New Book, “Perspectives on Fair Housing” (2020), co-edited by H+U+D Faculty Fellow Vincent Reina

University of Pennsylvania Press has published Perspectives on Fair Housing (2020), a volume co-edited by H+U+D Fellow Vincent Reina, Penn Provost Wendell Pritchett, and Penn IUR co-director Susan Wachter.

Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibited discrimination in the sale, rent, and financing of housing based on race, religion, and national origin. However, manifold historical and contemporary forces, driven by both governmental and private actors, have segregated these protected classes by denying them access to homeownership or housing options in high-performing neighborhoods. Perspectives on Fair Housing argues that meaningful government intervention continues to be required in order to achieve a housing market in which a person’s background does not arbitrarily restrict access.

The essays in this volume address how residential segregation did not emerge naturally from minority preference but rather how it was forced through legal, economic, social, and even violent measures. Contributors examine racial land use and zoning practices in the early 1900s in cities like Atlanta, Richmond, and Baltimore; the exclusionary effects of single-family zoning and its entanglement with racially motivated barriers to obtaining credit; and the continuing impact of mid-century “redlining” policies and practices on public and private investment levels in neighborhoods across American cities today. Perspectives on Fair Housing demonstrates that discrimination in the housing market results in unequal minority households that, in aggregate, diminish economic prosperity across the country.

Amended several times to expand the protected classes to include gender, families with children, and people with disabilities, the FHA’s power relies entirely on its consistent enforcement and on programs that further its goals. Perspectives on Fair Housing provides historical, sociological, economic, and legal perspectives on the critical and continuing problem of housing discrimination and offers a review of the tools that, if appropriately supported, can promote racial and economic equity in America.

In conjunction with the publication, Penn IUR is also hosting a related six-part Livestream series, “Perspectives on Fair Housing: Critical Discussions at a Critical Time,” led by Vincent Reina. The series will borrow its structure from the book and each event will feature a panel discussion with some of the nation’s top fair housing scholars, focusing on one aspect of fair housing.

The series will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. over three weeks beginning October 13.

  • October 13: The first event will focus on the history of the 1968 Fair Housing Act (FHA) and will feature a discussion on both the historical significance of the FHA and its implications for fair housing today.
  • October 15: The second event will focus on the complex relationship between fair housing and sociology with a particular emphasis on the way that a lack of fair housing has affected individuals and communities and exacerbated unequal access to neighborhoods and networks.
  • October 20: The third event will focus on the economic importance of fair housing, which has a direct link to wealth creation for households as well as economic development and growth for communities and regions.
  • October 22: The fourth event will focus on location and education, drawing links between fair housing, access to schools, and investments in schools.
  • October 27: The fifth event will focus on the legal significance of the FHA, which represents one of the most notable legislative achievements of the civil rights movement, but which also features limitations that challenge the government’s capacity for proactively advancing fair housing.
  • October 29: The final event will acknowledge the many groups not protected by the FHA, focusing in particular on how future fair housing efforts can place greater emphasis on the issues of gender and sexual identity.

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