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The Fair Housing Act at 50: Scholars Gather for Symposium

The Fair Housing Act at 50: Scholars Gather for Symposium

On April 11, in recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, PennDesign Assistant Professor of City and Regional Vincent Reina co-hosted symposium on the ongoing implementation of the landmark civil rights law. The event convened a range of scholars and housing experts in the public and private sectors for discussions on the historical roots of the Act, its past successes and failures, and future opportunities in fair housing. Each session was framed by "conversation starters" and punctuated by "breakout discussions," in which small groups of attendees discussed and debated focused questions before convening as a whole. The format promoted interdisciplinary discourse across social, political, and institutional boundaries, and the event's diverse participants were visibly energized with a call for action and collaboration to enhance and advance the ideals of fair housing today and in the future.

Wendell Pritchett, Provost and Presidential Professor of Law and Education at Penn, and Susan Wachter, Sussman Professor and Professor of Real Estate and Finance, also co-hosted the symposium, which was presented by the Penn Institute for Urban Research (PennIUR). 

During the event, Elizabeth Julian was given the 2018 Penn Institute for Urban Leadership Award. Elizabeth Julian is the Founder and Senior Counsel of the Dallas-based Inclusive Communities Project, which in 2015 won a Supreme Court case ruling that policies that have a disparate impact or perpetuate segregation are cognizable under the Fair Housing Act. Prior to her work with Inclusive Communities, Betsy served as Assistant Secretary for Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under the Clinton administration and has spent her career engaged in the practice of poverty and civil rights law.

PennIUR is also publishing a special issue of Cityscape: A Journal of Policy Development and Research entitled “Race and Policy: 50 Years after the Fair Housing Act,” edited Reina and Wachter.

Scholars, research, and practitioners in economics, law, public policy, sociology, and urban planning from the following places were at the event: Columbia University; Fordham University; Georgetown University; Massachusetts Institute of Technology; New York University; Rutgers University; Texas A&M University; University of California Los Angeles; University of the District of Columbia; University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne; University of Pennsylvania; Yale University; the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia; the Urban Institute; the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco; The Reinvestment Fund; BlackRock; National Urban League; Poverty and Race Research Center; National Fair Housing Alliance; National Association of Affordable Housing Lenders; the Inclusive Communities Project; the Integral Group; The Catalyst Group LLC; Fair Share Housing; Dane, and Colfax LLC; the City of New York; the City of Los Angeles; and the City of Philadelphia.