Fair Housing Continues To Be An Important Issue For Northern Virginians

Virginia’s Regional Fair Housing Symposium held in Fairfax County featured Senator Tim Kaine as the keynote speaker.

By Tanya Svoboda
Virginia’s Regional Fair Housing Symposium

The Northern Virginia Association of Realtors® (NVAR) sponsored an important regional event this past April, Virginia’s Regional Fair Housing Symposium, “Fair Housing Act at 50: The State of Fair Housing in the District”. The event was spearheaded by the Fairfax County Office of Human Rights and Equity Programs and attended by both REALTORS® and community members.

NVAR Chairman of the Board Lorraine Arora shared that despite the bill’s passage in 1968, the Fair Housing Act compliance is still an issue for Northern Virginia today. “As REALTORS® we often hear firsthand how homeowners are experiencing discrimination during their housing search,” she said. “NVAR has made a priority to make sure our REALTORS® understand why this issue is so important, and how they can advocate for all homeowners during the home buying process.”

Senator Tim Kaine

During the symposium, keynote speaker Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) explained how homeownership defines us, “Physical things are not important. But a house is an extension of who you are as a person; it is an extension of your personality.” He went on to talk about how providing a stable home can meet emotional needs and have a lasting psychological impact on families, underscoring how important it was that everyone be given the opportunity for homeownership.

As a young lawyer in Richmond, Kaine’s first case was a housing discrimination complaint. Kaine’s client, an African-American named Lorraine, had a difficult experience during her home search. “Lorraine inquired about a listing she liked, and was invited to view the property,” Kaine said. “When she arrived, she was informed that the place was ‘already taken.’ Suspicious, she asked her colleague to ask about availability, and he was invited to come the next day.”

Fair Housing Art and Literary Contest

NVAR knows that cases such as Lorraine’s are not just a thing of the past. Because of this, the association remains actively involved with fair housing, and hosts the Fairfax County Fair Housing Task Force for its quarterly meetings. In addition to sponsoring the symposium, NVAR provides cash prizes for the annual Fair Housing Art and Literary Contest hosted by The Fairfax County Student Human Rights Commission.

The contest was created to raise awareness among Fairfax County high school students about fair housing issues and laws. Promoting the importance of providing equal housing opportunities for all. This year’s theme was, Fair Housing: 50 Years and Building More.

Christina Choi of Centreville High School won for art and Kaycee Hubbard of Chantilly High School won for literature. Each student received a $300 prize.

Arora shared, “Our association will continue to seek out opportunities to educate homeowners and REALTORS® regarding fair housing compliance.”


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