Just a day after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development unveiled a controversial proposed change to federal rules related to segregation, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) revealed that it met with department officials and also settled on “a new plan to tackle the issue” of fair housing.
NAR is calling the new plan “ACT,” which stands for Accountability, Culture Change and Training. The goal of the plan is to “ensure America’s 1.4 million Realtors are doing everything possible to protect housing rights in America,” according to a NAR statement.
“Specifically, the nation’s largest trade association will take new actions to ensure members uphold the fair housing standards incorporated in NAR’s Code of Ethics; begin integrating fair housing into all conferences and engagements; and form partnerships with fair housing advocates to pursue shared goals around accountability and training, among countless other initiatives,” the statement adds.
The statement additionally explains that NAR approved the new plan just hours before meeting with Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Ben Carson. The meeting included NAR CEO Bob Goldberg and President Vince Malta, among others, and “allowed NAR to reiterate its commitment to partnering with HUD to advance fair housing protections,” the statement adds.
Though NAR did not provide additional specifics about what was discussed during the meeting, it did say that both its officials and HUD ultimately “agreed to work jointly on public service announcements and other proactive initiatives to communicate the importance of housing access for all Americans.”
The meeting and NAR’s new fair housing action plan both come just a day after Carson’s department proposed a controversial change to federal fair housing rules. The proposal would affect communities that receive federal funding for housing, and is designed to correct what HUD says are “overly burdensome” regulations.
However, numerous housing advocacy groups were quick to condemn the proposal. Among them, the National Fair Housing Alliance said HUD’s plan would “dismantle civil rights protections under the Fair Housing Act.” The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, another advocacy group, called the proposal an “outrageous step backwards.”
Both groups, and others, plan to continue fighting HUD’s proposal during a 60-day public comment period.
A spokesperson for NAR told Inman Wednesday that the new ACT plan, as well as the meeting with Carson, were not related to the controversial HUD proposal. The ACT plan has been in development for months. NAR also has not yet taken a position on HUD’s proposal, which it is still evaluating, the spokesperson said.
NAR has indicated that fair housing is among its top priorities. In a statement Wednesday, Malta said that “recent incidents have underscored the progress our nation must still make.”
“That’s why I am proud to announce that our association’s Leadership Team has voted today to approve an action that will directly ramp up and reinvigorate NAR’s fair housing commitment,” Malta added.
Malta did not specify the incidents to which he was referring, though housing discrimination has been a frequent topic in the news lately thanks to an investigation from Newsday that revealed rampant alleged racial discrimination in the real estate industry on Long Island, New York.
Goldberg also stressed the importance of fair housing Wednesday, calling it “the cornerstone of our commitment as Realtors.”
“With this new plan, we will see more robust education focusing on core fair housing criteria, unconscious bias, and how the actions of Realtors impact communities,” Goldberg said in a statement. “A partnership with government officials and fair housing advocates will allow us to further promote equality as we continue to work to diversify our industry.”
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