Minority Realtors Back Fair Housing Proposal

The National Assn. of Realtors has voiced opposition to the proposed Fair Housing Initiative Program, but the National Assn. of Real Estate Brokers has gone on record in support.

It's like Goliath fighting David.

The Chicago-based National Assn. of Realtors, formed in 1908 as the National Assn. of Real Estate Exchanges (it only became known as the National Assn. of Realtors in 1974, after being called the National Assn. of Real Estate Boards since 1916), is 670 times the size of the Washington D. C.-headquartered National Assn. of Real Estate Brokers. But the smaller, 1,000-member group is no newcomer to real estate, having been established in 1947. It has been called "the housing industry's oldest minority trade association."

"When we were formed, we weren't allowed to join the National Assn. of Realtors," Thom Holmes, the smaller group's president (installed a few days ago in Los Angeles), said. "The National Assn. of Realtors only started accepting various minorities as members in the 1960s."

Why didn't his organization merge then with the larger group?

"We have found that our problems are still quite different from

NAR's," he explained, "although many of our members have dual memberships."

The Fair Housing Initiative Program is a prime example of how the two groups can differ. As Holmes observed, "NAR is very much opposed to it, and we don't quite understand why this should be in 1985, but it shows why we are just as viable an organization as we were 30 years ago."

His organization was formed in Tampa, Fla., by a few black real estate brokers who dedicated themselves to pursuing "Democracy in Housing." This is still the theme of the National Assn. of Real Estate Brokers, which is still a predominantly minority group, although it is open to qualified real estate professionals (brokers, salespersons and others in affiliated real estate positions) of all races who are interested in achieving fair housing.

A program note from the 38th annual convention of the National Assn. of Real Estate Brokers, who also call themselves "realtists," stated:

"The development of a highly trained cadre of professionals and of a lively sense of group identification among blacks and other minorities have been significant factors in changing attitudes and relationships in a more equalitarian direction since the realtists have come into being."

Even so, Holmes said, "housing discrimination is just as rampant now as it ever was. It may be more sophisticated than it was, but it's still there."

Along with Holmes, of HJT Industries in Inglewood, other officers of the National Assn. of Real Estate Brokers are Albert Johnson of Chicago, first vice president; Evelyn A. Reeves of Los Angeles, second vice president; Frank Clay of Kentucky, third vice president; Bernice Browning of Ohio, secretary, and William Turner of New York, treasurer.

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