Adobe Stock/Brian Jackson

It was 50 years ago this month that Congress passed the landmark Fair Housing Act, making it illegal to deny housing based on a person’s skin color, religion, or country of origin. In a piece for HousingWire, Jeffery Hayward, Fannie Mae’s executive vice president and head of its multifamily business, writes that it’s “proper that we celebrate this milestone piece of legislation. But we cannot yet celebrate victory.”

While the law changed lives, he writes, it did not change all attitudes or behaviors. The legacy of housing discrimination and segregation remains a reality in virtually every community in the United States.

The African-American homeownership rate in 2015 stood at 41%, unchanged since 1968, and about 30 percentage points behind that of whites. The overall minority homeownership rate is about 47%, according to the Economic Policy Institute.

To achieve the full promise of the Fair Housing Act, difficult questions need to be addressed, Hayward writes.

Here’s one example:

How can communities make it easier and less costly to build more housing?

Our housing system is not producing enough moderately priced homes and workforce housing. In many communities, we face critical housing supply shortages for all but the wealthiest households. The National Low Income Housing Coalition put the shortfall between the demand for housing among extremely and very low-income households and the available supply of market-rate units they could afford at 8 million units in 2015.

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