Real estate regulations don’t exactly conjure the warm fuzzies, but sometimes it takes seeing one through kids’ eyes to remember the ideals — and the need — underlying it.

  • Check out the winners of a fair housing poster and essay contest held by a local Florida Realtor association.

A person snoozes in bed and dreams of an inviting place to call home. Boys and girls of different countries, represented by their flags, join hands in front of a modest house with a red roof. A cityscape features diverse faces smiling from the windows of their apartment buildings.

Real estate regulations don’t exactly conjure the warm fuzzies, but sometimes it takes seeing one through kids’ eyes to remember the ideals — and the need — underlying it, as the above images and ideas from the minds of bright students accomplish.

It’s Fair Housing Month, and Florida’s Realtors Association of the Palm Beaches (RAPB) took the opportunity to highlight the federal Fair Housing Act through an essay and poster contest for elementary and middle school children with the theme, “Fair Housing: Making Dreams Come True.”

“The goal of the contest was to raise public awareness of enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act, Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, familial status, disability, national origin, and gender, and to encourage fair housing opportunities for all citizens,” RAPB said in a press release.

“In addition, Palm Beach County’s Fair Housing Ordinance prohibits discrimination based upon sexual orientation, age, marital status and gender identity or expression.”

Earlier this month, a federal court ruled for the first time that the prohibition against sex discrimination in the Fair Housing Act protects LGBT people, and last week, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) released its annual Fair Housing Trends Report: The Case for Fair Housing.

Kids voice — and draw — what fair housing means to them

In one of the three winning essays, middle school student Kate Deviney wrote about the universal dream of having a place to call one’s own.

“They don’t have to necessarily own the place, but it is a place where they can close the door, exhale, and feel safe in that place. They can cook their meals, take a shower, watch television, take a nap, maybe talk and laugh with family friends, and do other simple things that allow them to feel good about themselves and their lives. It is a place where they can live in peace and with dignity,” she wrote.

“We must continue to enforce fair housing laws so that everyone has a chance to make his or her housing dreams come true.”

The essay winners were:

First Place – $100 gift card: Kate Deviney (Bak Middle School of the Arts)

Second Place – $50 gift card: Nalini Persaud (Lake Worth Middle)

Third Place – $25 gift card: Ryan Ullah (Roosevelt Community Middle)

Fair Housing Contest winners

Left to Right:
Kate Deviney, Bak Middle School of the Arts, Grade 7
Lily Battles, H.L. Johnson Elementary, Grade 5
Alaysia Means, Renaissance Charter of West Palm Beach, Grade 8
Micah Boggs, Homeschooled, Grade 4
Charlotte Oliver, Renaissance Charter of West Palm Beach, Grade 8
Mateo Eaton, Imagine Schools‐Chancellor Campus, Grade 3
Nalini Persaud, Lake Worth Middle School, Grade 8
Ryan Ullah, Roosevelt Middle School, Grade 6

Not in Attendance:
Joseph A. Perez, Renaissance Charter of West Palm Beach, Grade 6

Three elementary school students and three middle school students won the poster contest. Check out their work below.

Elementary school poster contest winners

First Place – $100 gift card: Mateo Eaton (Imagine Schools-Chancellor Campus)

First place entry by Mateo Eaton

Second Place – $50 gift card: Micah Boggs (Homeschooled)

Second place entry by Micah Boggs

Third Place – $25 gift card: Lily Battles (H.L. Johnson Elementary)

Third place entry by Lily Battles

Middle school poster contest winners

First Place – $100 gift card: Joseph A. Perez (Renaissance Charter School at West Palm Beach)

First place entry by Joseph Perez

Second Place – $50 gift card: Alaysia Means (Renaissance Charter School at West Palm Beach)

Second place entry by Alaysia Means

Third Place – $25 gift card: Charlotte Oliver (Renaissance Charter School at West Palm Beach)

Third place entry by Charlotte Oliver

Other elementary school entries submitted by students

Entry by Natalia Alfeo-Polanco

Entry by Reyheem Geddes

Entry by Glenequea Ricketts

Other middle school entries submitted by students

Entry by Rianna White

Entry by Nephtalie Merisnor

Entry by Nalini Persaud

Entry by Ryan Boggs

RAPB is the sixth largest local Realtor association in the country with more than 15,000 agent, broker and appraiser members. The trade group held the annual poster contest in conjunction with the Palm Beach County Office of Equal Opportunity and the Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County.

Racial steering by agents still a problem

There’s a reason why we’re still talking about fair housing, among elementary school students and grown-up professionals alike.

All real estate agents and brokers must adhere to the Fair Housing Act, but despite this, “agents continue to play a role in the ongoing patterns of racial and ethnic segregation in the United States,” according to NFHA’s Fair Housing Trends Report.

Source: National Fair Housing Alliance 2017 Fair Housing Trends Report: The Case for Fair Housing.

“The ‘steering’ of homeseekers to and away from neighborhoods with distinct racial compositions is often uncovered in fair housing tests.”

The report describes instances of agents steering whites away from integrated or majority-minority neighborhoods and either refusing to show homes to blacks and Latinos or only showing them one or two homes.

One Brooklyn agent went so far as to draw red lines on a map around the (majority white) areas in which a white homebuyer should look for homes and drew arrows to identify neighborhoods that were “changing,” the report said.

In 2016, there were more than 28,000 reported complaints of housing discrimination in the U.S., according to the report. Of those complaints, nearly 18,000 occurred within rental transactions and 406 within real estate sales transactions.

The latter is “a significant increase from 2015, which saw 317 instances of sales-related housing discrimination,” the report said.

The NFHA believes housing discrimination is highly underreported, estimating that there are 4 million instances of such discrimination in the rental market alone each year.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to identify the essay author quoted in the article.

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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