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Sussex County Realtors mark Fair Housing Month

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Sussex County real estate agents and county council members will mark the 48th anniversary of  the Fair Housing Act today.

The formal proclamation, which has become an annual event in council chambers, acknowledges the 48th anniversary of the passing of Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act. Also known as the Fair Housing Act, this legislation makes it illegal to discriminate against potential homebuyers on the grounds of race, color, religion or national origin.  Gender was added to the list of protected classes in 1974, while people with disabilities and families with children were added by the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988.

“The passing of this important piece of legislation nearly a half-century ago was a testimony to the power of the American civil rights movement. It’s also a law that forever changed the real estate industry here in the United States, for the better,” said Frank Serio, 2016 president of the Sussex County Association of Realtors (SCAOR). “This legislation leveled the playing field and has allowed many people, who were left out before 1968, to obtain the American dream of home ownership.”

The Fair Housing Act does not specifically include sexual orientation and gender identity as prohibited classes, though the Department of Housing and Urban Development  issued a regulation in 2012 prohibiting discrimination against the LGBT community. Delaware, however, is one of nearly two dozen states that have passed laws prohibiting housing-based discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity.

A 28-member Human Relations Commission (HRC) was formed in Delaware in 1961 and began overseeing housing discrimination issues seven years before the federal legislation was enacted. Appointed by the governor, the commission hears complaints and rule on cases regarding discrimination.

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