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New law prompts HOAs to remove racially restrictive language

Homeowners and condominium associations in Michigan can now amend their rules to remove racially restrictive language. While the Fair Housing Act and other laws have been in place to prevent discriminatory practices in housing, the act did not apply to homeowners’ associations.

The Discharge of Prohibited Restrictive Covenants Act applies to these associations and protects people from discrimination based on race. The boards of these associations can change their rules to eliminate any language that discriminates against people from living there because of their race.

The act prohibits specific language in home associations’ rules and even property deeds, which until now has been outside the scope of the Fair Housing Act and other protections against racial discrimination.

Before a U.S. Supreme Court case in 1948, white people used rules based on race to prevent black people from moving into their neighborhoods by using racist language in their rules and regulations.

The rules based on race led to a long-term problem of segregation and discrimination. Before 1948, black families had no choice but to buy property in only certain areas of Michigan where other black people also bought property. These practices continue, creating a type of de facto segregation.

The lasting impact of discriminatory practices before 1948 is still visible in schools. Many schools around Michigan happen to have students of only one race, including schools that have primarily only black students, especially in inner cities like Detroit.

This new law provides hope for many people in Michigan who want to see the state become more diverse and inclusive, and for people who want to live in certain places where they could not live before.