Take a minute now to thank Congress for passing the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.


Fair Housing made us free

Pedro Hernandez remembers a time before the passage of the Fair Housing Act when discrimination ran rampant in the neighborhoods of Miami, Florida.

By HOM Editor

Liza and Pedro

Pedro Hernandez remembers a time before the passage of the Fair Housing Act when discrimination ran rampant in the neighborhoods of Miami, Florida. Pedro immigrated to the United States from Cuba in the late 1950s before the wave of refugees from the Fidel Castro regime. By 1966, he obtained his real estate license and began working in an environment where race, more often than not, determined sales.

Pedro stated, “When a person of color came to the neighborhood, [white] people began to panic,” and property values would fall. In stores and businesses, he would often see signs stating, “No Blacks. No Cubans. No dogs.” A move towards integration would face many obstacles in Miami, but Pedro persevered, “Was I discriminated against? Yes. Because I was Cuban. Because of my accent. Because of not speaking English. I didn’t care.”

Pedro was more concerned with establishing his practice and making a name for himself as the go-to Cuban REALTOR®. His firm, where daughter Liza Mendez eventually joined him, was one of the first Hispanic-owned firms in Miami. Between the two family members, they have over eighty years of experience in real estate and have witnessed the impact of the Fair Housing Act.

Pedro explained that the transition after the act was difficult, because the population needed to transition from discriminatory to fair practices – a process made more difficult by lack of understanding of the law. However, he cites the efforts of NAR, the local government, county officials, and other REALTORS® as key to reducing housing discrimination in Miami.

Although she grew up with the Fair Housing Act in place, Liza “never takes it for granted.” At the beginning of her career in the 1980s, Liza faced subtler versions of housing discrimination compared to the vitriol of her father’s early years. The questions about neighborhood demographics were more coded. She soon learned to guide her clients away from those biases, encouraging them to focus on their housing goals and reminding them that Miami was a melting pot – its diverse neighborhoods an asset, rather than a cause for fear.

Both father and daughter would argue that racial discrimination in housing is no longer a problem in Miami, because of the Fair Housing Act. The commitment that they share with other REALTORS® to uphold the act ensures a “more level playing field for everyone.” Liza acknowledged that there is still work to be done for other marginalized communities, such as the LGBTQ+ community, but believed that the Fair Housing Act has the structure to create balance.

With their influence on the Miami real estate industry, and Liza’s leadership positions in local REALTOR® chapters and her certifications in ethics training, Pedro and Liza continue to work with their clients and community to ensure the enforcement of the Fair Housing Act. For them, this is not just a legal obligation. Fair housing is “ethical and right” and opened the doors for anyone to be a homeowner or renter.

As Pedro stated, “Fair housing made us free.”

Time to Focus on Affordable Housing

Taxes on real estate are not the answer. Sign the petition calling on Congress to address our country’s housing shortage.

Sign It Now


National Association of REALTORS®
The Critical Connections Between Housing and Health
October 23, 2018

Where we live has an enormous impact on our health and well-being. Recent research has demonstrated that the neighborhood in which a person lives can be a more important predictor of health than his or her genetic makeup.

National Association of REALTORS®
After 50 Years, How Much Has Changed?
September 17, 2018

Research and demographic reports provide a window into how the housing market has grown more and more diverse because of the Fair Housing Act.

National Association of REALTORS®
Housing Opportunity and Educational Achievement
August 27, 2018

Access to good schools is essential for supporting positive educational and economic outcomes for children.

National Association of REALTORS®
Building Stronger, Healthier Communities for All Through Fair Housing and Equal Opportunities
July 25, 2018

It’s not just the residence that matters when we discuss housing opportunity and equality, but the quality of the neighborhood, too.

National Association of REALTORS®
Despite the Law’s Original Intent, Not All Groups Are Covered by the Fair Housing Act
June 7, 2018

As he signed the Fair Housing Act into law in April 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson explained the significance of the new law and the changes it sought to bring.

National Association of REALTORS®
Is 50 Years Enough? Why the Fight for Fair Housing Continues, and REALTORS®’ Role in Ensuring Its Success
May 10, 2018

Signed into law on April 11, 1968, the Fair Housing Act is vital to ensuring that everyone in America has equal access to housing.

National Association of REALTORS®
“The First Step in a 1000-mile Journey”: How the Dream of a Fair Housing Act Became Reality
April 6, 2018

One hundred years after the last shots were fired in the Civil War, African Americans were still struggling against unfair treatment and discrimination in practically all aspects of society.

National Association of REALTORS®
From One Voice to Many: Despite Setbacks and Opposition, How a Growing Chorus Paved the Way to Fair Housing
March 21, 2018

Looking back on the fifty years since the passage of the Fair Housing Act in 1968…

National Association of REALTORS®
You Can’t Live Here: The Enduring Impacts of Restrictive Covenants
February 9, 2018

The 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act represents an opportunity to remind ourselves not only of the importance of the law in shaping the real estate landscape today…

National Association of REALTORS®
Fair Housing: Promises of a Century
January 15, 2018

For REALTORS®, the Fair Housing Act is one of our nation’s most significant laws guiding the real estate industry today.