To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act this year, the Illinois REALTORS® unveiled a new video that looks at the history of fair housing issues in real estate and what the future holds. The video, which was previewed today at a Fair Housing Forum at the association’s Public Policy Meetings in East Peoria, features Illinois REALTORS® sharing their stories of the impact the law has had on the industry and homeowners.

“We all want the same thing. We want a nice place for our children to grow up. It’s not just the house, it’s the community,” said Frank J. Williams, past president of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and the Dearborn Realtist Board, in the video. Williams, a REALTOR® in the Chicago area, was a leader in the state’s fair housing fight.

Fair Housing Forum

Forum participants (l to r): Moderator Genie Birch, Nykea Pippion-McGriff, Tommy Choi, Jessica Barrera, Vicky Silvano and Courtney Jones.

Fifty years later the discussion of fair housing and equal access continues and some homeowners and renters can still face discrimination even in subtle ways such as tighter lending standards and other hurdles that cause lower minority homeownership levels. Fair housing is an issue that must continue to be discussed in the years to come and education and advocacy are key.

“It’s not a 50-year fight, it’s a 2018 fight. It’s a 2019 fight,” said REALTOR®  Nykea Pippion-McGriff of Dream Town Realty, who was among the panelist at the Fair Housing Forum. Pippion-McGriff is president of the Women’s Council of REALTORS® Chicago.

Another panelist, REALTOR® Jessica Barrera of West Town Realty Chicago said she got into real estate after watching her parents navigate the homebuying process. She is president of the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals Chicago Chapter.

“We’re not just here to serve our own communities. We need to be an example that we are here to serve everybody as REALTORS®” she said. “We need to keep pushing, keep fighting and be more aware and talking about (fair housing).”

Vicky Silvano talks about fair housing as Jessica Barrera (left) and Courtney Jones (right) look on.

Other panelists included:

  • Moderator Genie Birch of Century 21 Affiliated in Lincolnwood (past Chicago Association of REALTORS® president and former chair of the NAR diversity committee)
  • Tommy Choi of Keller Williams Chicago-Lincoln Park (vice chair of NAR YPN Advisory Group)
  • Courtney Jones of Chicago Homes Realty Group (2017-18 Dearborn Realtist president) and
  • Vicky Silvano of Century 21 SGR, Inc. in Chicago (NAR Global Real Estate Committee Liaison)

In the fair housing video, REALTOR® Zeke Morris said he is encouraged that people are having the conversations about fair housing that they wouldn’t have had 50 years ago, even though it can sometimes be uncomfortable.

“If we’re going to grow, you have to learn how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable,” Morris said. “If we can do that, we can all move to a different level.”

Illinois REALTORS® President Matt Difanis said that progress has been made in the 50 years since the signing on the Fair Housing Act and while the work isn’t over, things are moving in the right direction. In a week when Americans observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Difanis reflected on a quote from King: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

“If you think about 50 years, we are not there, but there is definite evidence, strong evidence that we are in fact bending that arc toward justice,” Difanis said.