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Evansville City Council Marks Fifty Years Of Open Housing Ordinance

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Isaiah Seibert
/
WNIN

The council unanimously approved a resolution Monday night celebrating 50 years since the passing of the Open Housing Ordinance. The resolution reaffirms the council's committment to affordable housing and racial equality.

In November 1968, the Evansville City Council passed the Open Housing Ordinance, which made refusing to sell a home to someone because of their race prohibited. It was the city’s own version of the Fair Housing Act passed by Congress just a few months before.  

With Monday night’s resolution, the city council took note of the progress made on racial desegregation since the late 1960s but acknowledged the city still has work to do. The resolution admits that racial disparities in homeownership rates haven’t changed much in 50 years.

Diane Clements-Boyd is director of the Evansville-Vanderburgh County Human Relations Commission, which investigates civil rights violations. She told the council that the resolution provides an opportunity to raise awareness about how historic housing laws affect people today. 

"We know that there are still policies and practices in place that still work to hinder or thwart homeownership in certain populations,'" she said. 

Evansville’s black homeownership rate is lower than the national average. According to Kelley Coures, executive director of the Evansville Department of Metropolitan Development, U.S. Census from 2010 data showed that 31.8 percent of black households in Evansville owned their own home. Nationwide, that number is 41.7 percent for the third quarter of 2018. (Coures told council homeownership rates take a long time to change.)

Meanwhile, 60 percent of the city's white households own their homes, according to the 2010 data. Clements-Boyd said fixes like non-traditional approaches to home loans can help close the gap.

Read the full resolution: