The federal Fair Housing Act defines basic obligations, protections, and enforcement provisions pertaining to housing discrimination in the United States. Although enacted in 1968, it was not until 2001 that we learned the extent of the general public's awareness of and support for this law and the degree to which persons believing they were victims of housing discrimination sought to take advantage of its enforcement provisions. This report documents what we have learned since that time, based on new information.
The baseline study, "How Much Do We Know?" (April 2002) revealed that majorities of the adult public were knowledgeable about and approved of most aspects of the law, although the size of the majorities varied across these aspects. It also discovered that only a small fraction of those believing they had experienced housing discrimination had taken any action in response.
This follow-up study finds that between 2001 and 2005 knowledge of fair housing laws has increased in two areas - discrimination against families with children and steering of prospective homebuyers by race - but declined in one area - discrimination based on religion. On a composite index of overall knowledge, there was no change between 2001 and 2005. There was, however, a significant increase in overall support for fair housing laws.
The study also explores the extent people know what to do to address perceived discrimination and why so few people who perceive they have been discriminated against do nothing about it.