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Heinrich, Senate Colleagues Introduce Legislation To Examine History Of Racially Restrictive Covenants

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined several of his colleagues in introducing legislation to examine the history of racially restrictive covenants—which were used as tools of discrimination to keep Black families and households of color from moving into certain neighborhoods—so we can better understand the scope of these covenants.

"New Mexico's neighborhoods share the same shameful history as the rest of the country in terms of racially discriminatory and segregationist housing policies,” said Heinrich. “We need to comprehensively map housing segregation in every single community in America and get to the bottom of the lingering effects of policies such as racially restrictive covenants in property deeds.That's the only way for us to confront this injustice and effectively craft fair housing policies moving forward."

The Mapping Housing Discrimination Act would:

  • Create a competitive grant program for educational institutions to conduct primary data analysis of local historic property records from 1850-1988 for the purpose of identifying racial covenants and racially restrictive language;
  • Support efforts by local governments to digitize historic deeds and other property records at the local level; and
  • Create a national, publicly available database at the Department of Housing and Urban Development of historic housing discrimination patterns in property records, including local datasets produced by grant recipients.

In addition to Senator Heinrich, the legislation, led by U.S. Senator Tina Smith (D-Minn.), is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.).

The bill is endorsed by the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, Economic Policy Institute, National Association of REALTORS, UnidosUS, National Fair Housing Alliance, NAACP, Center for Responsible Lending, National Low Income Housing Coalition, Mortgage Bankers Association, National Community Stabilization Trust, Up for Growth Action, National Association of Real Estate Brokers and National Alliance of Community Economic Development Associations (NACEDA).