“Fifty years ago on April 11, Congress enacted the Fair Housing Act, the last of the three great civil rights laws of the 1960s. Along with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act, it was an attempt by Congress to translate the movement led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and others into enduring statute. But it also has the more dubious distinction of being the most contested, most ignored and, at times, most misunderstood of those laws.
For most of the 20th century, an array of forces worked to divide American communities into black and white quarters. Some involved explicit discrimination, including racial redlining in federal mortgage insurance, and real estate covenants that restricted home buyers by race. But some were more subtle, like the steering by real estate agents of racial minorities into certain neighborhoods, biased lending and underwriting, and the concentration of low-income housing in low-income neighborhoods.”