BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — This week marks the 55th anniversary of the passage of the Fair Housing Act, which prohibits housing discrimination. 

Last year, some 30,000 claims of housing discrimination were filed.

Birmingham City Councilman Darryl O’Quinn said the issue of housing discrimination has a history in the city.

As the Fair Housing Act celebrates an anniversary, Justin Williams with the Birmingham Realist Association said the work for fair and equitable housing continues.

”We are seeing these atrocities every day where people are still not having access to equality and fair housing throughout the country,” Williams said.

The Birmingham City Council announced this week it has established a housing policy committee to level the playing field. O’Quinn said one specific area that is a priority is widening the income requirement.

”We find that a lot of private property owners don’t recognize voucher recipients or people who have non-traditional sources of income,” O’Quinn said. “That’s something that we hope to add in the city of Birmingham. It’s not a new thing. It’s been something that has existed in other cities at least for a couple of decades. 

Amanda Creel heads up the Birmingham Association of Realtors and said change will happen when people stand up for their rights.

”People need to know that they have rights when it comes to housing,” Creel said. “That they can’t be discriminated against based on the color of their skin or based on who they love or based on other things within the protected classes.”

Prospective buyers knowing their rights and property owners opens the doors of opportunity to everyone. For Williams, it all starts with the power of information.

”Education is key,” Williams said. “Making sure that we are educating property owners about the rules of fair housing and that they are making their homes available for all people, no matter who it is. Everyone should have a fair opportunity to acquire any type of property or living situation that they desire to be able to acquire.”

The housing policy committee will be chaired by Birmingham City Councilor J.T. Moore. It will also include O’Quinn and councilor Carol Clarke.