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Fair housing has never been that fair. In fact, in California at one point, realtors successfully campaigned for a California constitutional amendment that would permanently prohibit fair housing. In the process, they created the script of color-blind freedom that polarizes America on issue after issue today. Realtors helped invent “the American Dream,” while systematically denying it to millions of Americans.
Gene Slater’s Freedom to Discriminate makes note of racial deed restrictions, homeowner associations, redlining maps, and federal rationales for excluding minorities. These were all pioneered by America’s realtors. Focusing on how California’s realtors defended all-white neighborhoods against the Civil Rights Movement, he shows the thread that others followed. Ronald Reagan’s political rise drew, in part, from the arguments the realtors gave to continue segregation. That rise would lay the groundwork for many of today’s conservative narratives.
Gene Slater has served as senior advisor on housing for federal, state, and local agencies for over forty years. Slater cofounded and chairs CSG Advisors, which has been one of the nation’s leading advisors on affordable housing for decades. His projects have received numerous national awards, and in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009, he helped design the program by which the United States Treasury financed homes for 110,000 first-time buyers. He holds degrees from Columbia, MIT, and Stanford.
Jay Reich is a retired partner of Pacifica Law Group and spent two years as Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Commerce under Secretary Gary Locke. Prior to his time in Washington, D.C, his private law practice in Seattle focused on affordable housing, education, nonprofit and government finance, as well as public/private partnerships and general municipal law, for nearly 3 decades. He served as a White House Fellow in the office of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture. Reich has been a visiting lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law and has published and spoken extensively on issues in public finance.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.