What Is Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity Housing?

If you’re looking for a home to rent or buy, you may have encountered the terms “fair housing” and “equal opportunity housing.” But what do they mean, and why are they important?

In this blog post, we’ll explain the basics of fair housing and equal opportunity housing, and how they protect your rights as a home seeker.

digital watercolor image created by ai depicting fair housing and equal opportunity housing

Fair Housing

Fair housing refers to the right of all people to have equal access to housing of their choice, without facing discrimination based on their race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, familial status (having children under 18), or any other protected characteristic under federal, state, or local laws.

Fair housing is guaranteed by the Fair Housing Act, a federal law that was passed in 1968 as part of the Civil Rights Act. The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, financing, advertising, and insurance of housing. It also requires housing providers to make reasonable accommodations and modifications for people with disabilities.

The Fair Housing Act is enforced by the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), an agency within the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). FHEO investigates complaints of housing discrimination, conducts education and outreach programs, and provides funding and support to state and local agencies and organizations that promote fair housing.

If you believe you have experienced housing discrimination, you can file a complaint with FHEO online, by phone, by mail, or in person at any HUD office. You can also contact a local fair housing organization for assistance. You have one year from the date of the alleged discrimination to file a complaint with FHEO.

Equal Opportunity Housing

Equal opportunity housing refers to the principle that all people should have the same opportunity to obtain safe, decent, and affordable housing that meets their needs and preferences. Equal opportunity housing goes beyond fair housing by addressing the barriers and challenges that may prevent some people from accessing housing, such as poverty, segregation, homelessness, lack of information, or limited housing options.

Equal opportunity housing is supported by various federal programs and policies that aim to increase the availability, affordability, accessibility, and quality of housing for all Americans.

Some examples of these programs and policies are:

    • The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which provides funding to state and local governments for housing and community development projects that benefit low- and moderate-income people.
    • The HOME Investment Partnerships program, which provides funding to state and local governments and nonprofit organizations for affordable housing production and preservation for low-income people.
    • The Housing Choice Voucher program, which provides rental assistance to low-income families, seniors, and people with disabilities to help them afford decent housing in the private market.
    • The Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP), which provides funding and support to nonprofit organizations that assist victims of housing discrimination, educate the public and housing providers about fair housing rights and responsibilities, and conduct testing and enforcement activities to prevent and remedy housing discrimination.
    • The Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) rule, which requires HUD program participants to take meaningful actions to overcome historic patterns of segregation, promote fair housing choice, and foster inclusive communities.


Fair housing and equal opportunity housing are essential for ensuring that all people can live in dignity and freedom in the homes of their choice. By understanding your rights and responsibilities under the fair housing laws, and by taking advantage of the resources and programs available to help you find and secure housing, you can make your dream home a reality.

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