John Legend to Realtors: ‘Maintain yourselves accountable’

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Talking at NAR’s annual convention, the musician and civil rights champion mentioned there are “extra urgent” truthful housing points than the time period “main bedroom.”

Earlier this 12 months, Grammy Award-winning musician and civil rights champion John Legend took Realtors to task for specializing in what he referred to as a “faux downside” — the time period “main bedroom” — quite than an actual downside: housing discrimination.

On Wednesday, Legend spoke on the final day of the Nationwide Affiliation of Realtors annual convention, the Realtors Convention and Expo, in a normal session referred to as “The Way forward for Truthful Housing with John Legend.” The Nationwide Civil Rights Museum awarded Legend its Freedom Award final 12 months for his philanthropic and inventive contributions to civil rights causes.

The session, attended just about by 1000’s of Realtors, was closed to press, which NAR indicated was at Legend’s request. The commerce group later despatched out a press release with a few of Legend’s remarks.

In talking with NAR President Vince Malta and Vice President of Affiliation Affairs Mabél Guzmán, Legend touched on points that contribute to lingering racial homeownership gaps, which he mentioned have led to a white-black wealth gap of round 10-1, in keeping with the discharge. He as soon as once more challenged Realtors “to advertise significant change and assist put an finish to systemic housing inequities,” the discharge mentioned.

“As you all know, in America, the commonest approach that folk construct wealth is thru homeownership. So, for us to know this enormous and protracted wealth hole … we now have to speak about housing discrimination, its historical past and what we are able to do about it now,” he mentioned.

As many panelists have executed all through the convention, Legend talked about Richard Rothstein’s ebook on redlining, The Shade of Legislation, and Newsday’s groundbreaking, three-year investigation of agent discrimination in Lengthy Island’s housing market, which Legend has tweeted is “an actual, persistent downside within the business.”

“I’m not the true skilled on this difficulty, however Richard Rothstein wrote a extremely exhaustive historical past [of housing discrimination]. When you learn the ebook, you’ll notice that a number of of us performed a job on this occurring. It’s not correct or truthful to single out your business because the culprits, however [Realtors] have performed a job in it traditionally and we nonetheless have points like steering, the place sure consumers aren’t being proven all the homes that they qualify for,” Legend mentioned.

He advised convention attendees that eliminating housing discrimination would require tough conversations and can rely upon Realtors being intentional of their efforts to advertise fairness and truthful housing, in keeping with NAR.

“Maintain yourselves accountable and maintain your colleagues accountable,” he mentioned. “All of us must do higher. That received’t erase centuries of discrimination, however it would at the least be sure that your business is enjoying a job … in making this nation extra simply, truthful and equal for everyone.”

The time period “main bedroom” solely got here up briefly through the dialogue “within the context of how [Legend] felt there have been extra urgent points that impacted truthful housing,” a NAR spokesperson advised Inman by way of electronic mail.

At a convention session for a number of itemizing service and affiliation executives two weeks in the past, NAR Director of Truthful Housing Coverage Bryan Greene made clear that the time period didn’t violate the Truthful Housing Act. Altering the time period as a result of it would offend primarily based on race or gender is “superb,” nevertheless it’s not a Truthful Housing Act difficulty, he mentioned.

“That architectural time period, if it does, in truth, offend folks, and I’ve by no means by no means met anybody personally whom it offends, it doesn’t violate the Truthful Housing Act. HUD, who enforces the Truthful Housing Act, has made clear that it doesn’t violate the Truthful Housing Act,” he mentioned.

The Truthful Housing Act just isn’t involved with whether or not somebody would possibly discover a phrase offensive, however quite if somebody studying an commercial for a house selling the main bedroom would conclude from that advert that they need to not apply or attempt to purchase that house, in keeping with Greene.

“You understand, ‘We don’t need your variety right here’ — that time period ‘main bedroom’ doesn’t talk that to any affordable individual. HUD mentioned that again within the ’90s. I mentioned it once more this 12 months,” mentioned Greene, who labored for HUD for 11 years earlier than becoming a member of NAR final 12 months.

“Nobody’s use of that time period would ever be discovered by HUD, and nearly definitely not by any federal decide, to disclaim somebody housing,” he added.

In Wednesday’s launch, NAR mentioned it had intensified its efforts to help truthful housing after the Newsday report got here out final 12 months. The commerce group debuted a fair housing plan, ACT, in January and launched an implicit bias training video in July that goals to assist brokers acknowledge biases that “persist regardless of greatest intentions and sometimes with out aware consciousness.”

Final week, the commerce group passed controversial changes to its professional standards to crack down on racist and discriminatory speech and behavior in addition to new standards for its native associations and a number of itemizing providers that require sure truthful housing elements.

“NAR continues to rectify its previous errors and to place our members to steer this nation’s combat for extra inclusive neighborhoods and equitable housing coverage into the long run,” Malta mentioned in a press release.

He continued, “From unveiling new interactive coaching platforms to creating sources on how unconscious bias can have an effect on actual property transactions, NAR’s energetic function on this combat underscores the significance of truthful housing to our 1.4 million Realtors and our bigger society.”

Email Andrea V. Brambila.

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