Utah lawmakers have made fair housing a priority, but have residents?

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<p dir=”ltr”><span>Recently, Utah lawmakers decided to make an amendment to the 47-year-old Fair Housing Act, which was passed in 1968 and prohibits the discrimination of housing opportunities based on race, religion color, ethnicity, sex, disability, family status, and — most recently — sexual orientation.</span></p><p dir=”ltr”><span>As one local news station has reported, however, the Fair Housing Snap Shot Research Project discovered that the majority of Utahns aren’t familiar with the particulars of the law; on an eight-question True/False test about the</span> <a href=”http://www.ksl.com/?nid=148&amp;sid=34634335″><span>Fair Housing Act</span></a><span>, the average score of Utahn respondents was 52%.</span></p><p dir=”ltr”><span>Although 71% knew that the law is intended to prevent discrimination for housing, only 10% believed that it applied to minorities. About 14% of respondents stated that they had experienced housing discrimination before, but only 18% of respondents knew whom to contact.</span></p><p dir=”ltr”><span>The amendment may seem like more of an LBGTQ and minority discrimination issue — which it certainly is — but it has also inspired many more conversations about housing opportunities in Utah.</span></p><p dir=”ltr”><span>Over the past decade, and right before the Recession hit, Americans began building and renovating new homes to have mansion-like dimensions. Features like guest homes, usually averaging</span> <a href=”http://www.arthurrutenberghomes.com/guest-suite-trends-private-homes/”><span>about 1,200 square feet</span></a><span>, became normal additions to houses in affluent neighborhoods, but many families were forced to downsize when they encountered financial troubles — and many giant homes never found new occupants.</span></p><p dir=”ltr”><span>Instead, more homeowners continued looking for small living spaces; even new college grads and young professionals have opted for apartments and condos in urban areas, rather than single-family homes in the suburbs.</span></p><p dir=”ltr”><span>This trend has been happening across the country, but it has become more apparent in metro Utah areas recently. As the</span> <span>Salt Lake Tribune</span> <span>has reported, low-income residents often spend up to 93% of their income on transportation, home, and utility expenses; living in a city is</span> <a href=”http://www.sltrib.com/news/2508310-155/why-utah-needs-more-apartments-smaller”><span>simply more affordable</span></a><span>.</span></p><p dir=”ltr”><span>On the other hand, as found in a recent survey conducted by the Utah Division of Real Estate, real estate agents in the state have become increasingly</span> <a href=”http://www.heraldextra.com/business/local/understanding-buyer-and-seller-agency-in-the-beehive-state/article_f8a5a764-4170-5934-8ebc-37a42e11fed0.html”><span>neglectful of simple tasks</span></a><span>, like signing buyer’s agreements, which are intended to regulate the entire process.</span></p><p dir=”ltr”><span>Without agreements like these, it’s easy for discrimination to occur in the housing market. As cities become even more tightly packed and as rent increases in urban areas, consumer protection becomes even more important — but if residents aren’t aware that it exists, and if real estate agents fail to inform them, no amount of new legislation will truly ensure fair housing.</span></p>

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