Housing discrimination in the United States refers to the historical and current barriers, policies, and biases that prevent equitable access to housing. Housing discrimination became more pronounced after the abolition of slavery in 1865, typically as part of Jim Crow laws that enforced racial segregation. The federal government began to take action against these laws in 1917 when the Supreme Court struck down ordinances prohibiting blacks from occupying or owning buildings in majority-white neighborhoods in Buchanan v. Warley. However, the federal government as well as local governments, continued to be directly responsible for housing discrimination through redlining and race-restricted covenants until the Civil Rights Act of 1968.
This Act included legislation known as the Fair Housing Act, which made it unlawful for a landlord to discriminate against or prefer a potential tenant based on their race, color, religion, gender, or national origin when advertising or negotiating the sale or rental of housing. Such protections have also been extended to other “protected classes,” including disabilities and familial status. Despite these efforts, studies have shown that housing discrimination still exists and that the resulting segregation has led to wealth, educational, and health disparities. The prevalence of housing discrimination and redlining in the United States has led to wide-ranging impacts on various aspects of the structure of society, such as housing inequality and educational inequality. These phenomena can be seen through the lens of critical race theory as examples of systemic racism.