Vanderbilt Law Review

First Page



The final version of the Fair Housing title anticipates a more active role for the federal government in the areas not presently covered by state or prior federal law. There is a central distinction between the protection afforded by the Act and the Jones decision. Where the latter recognizes the right of citizens to have their rights adjudicated, the former recognizes that not every victim of discrimination is willing or can afford to undergo the difficulty and expense of private litigation. The Fair Housing Law therefore provides for certain types of federal initiative to guarantee those rights. At the same time, however, the enforcement provisions require the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to defer to state and local agencies which are in a position to offer comparable remedies.Much of the opposition to the Act came from those who felt that this was a proper subject for state, local and individual initiative.With this we are all in agreement. But the record indicates that while the first state occupancy act was passed over ten years ago, until recently only 21 states had undertaken to act in this area. In a very real sense,the problem of housing discrimination is a national one and federal leadership is imperative if we are to deal with it.