An Apology & Recommitment to Fair Housing

The following was delivered by 2019 CAR President Tommy Choi, with the unanimous support of our Board of Directors, at our 50th Anniversary of Fair Housing commemoration event:

Chicago and Illinois have played a central role – both in the history of discrimination and in continuing efforts to ensure fair housing for all.

Housing discrimination and segregated housing patterns were no accident. Our industry – brokers and agents, property managers, lenders, local governments and many community institutions, engaged in discriminatory zoning, neighborhood classifications, restrictive covenants and more, to define and allow racial boundaries in our city. Many of these same institutions interfered with the ability of women, people with disabilities, families with children and the LGBTQ population from buying, renting and otherwise enjoying the benefits of private property and the place to live of their choice.

Locally and nationally, our association was on the wrong side of history. We opposed fair housing laws and defended the right of property owners to discriminate as to who could buy property, even as our nation woke up to the great need for laws prohibiting discrimination in housing and as the Chicago Freedom Movement challenged our city to embrace open housing. We closed the door to African Americans and others based on race and created a dual housing market: one for white Chicago and one for black and minority Chicago.

Historically, our commitment to equality in housing has been found wanting. For these past actions in the opposition to fairness and equality by the association we now lead, we have profound regret. To those of you in the audience and throughout our city who have been and continue to be impacted by this history and its effects, on behalf of the Chicago Association of REALTORS® and myself, we are sorry. We are sorry for the legacy and its impact on our city.

Today, we find ourselves in stark contrast to that legacy. Our officers include myself, a president of Asian descent, a president elect, treasurer and CEO who are African American, and a board whose diversity reflects all the diversity in our great city. We are challenged with – and determined to – work with the city, and with you, to dismantle the constructs that perpetuate segregation in Chicago and work to ensure fair housing for all our citizens.

We are committed to this cause. We hope you’ll join us.

Access our Fair Housing toolkit here.