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National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, Inc. (1945-1974) | Amistad Research Center

Name: National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing, Inc. (1945-1974)

Historical Note:

In 1950, the National Committee Against Discrimination in Housing (NCDH) was created as a non-profit, independent research organization to sponsor and conduct research in the field of housing for minorities; and to enlist the cooperation of government, real estate interests, and community leaders in eliminating discrimination in housing.  Principal founders were Charles Abrams, Algernon Black, Dorothy S. Austrian, Hortense Gabel, Katherine Morton, Ira S. Robbins, and Robert C. Weaver.  The NCDH periodical, Trends in Housing, began publication in 1956 and was devoted exclusively to news in the housing and civil rights field.  In 1956, the NCDH also commenced the lobbying campaign for a federal executive order banning discrimination in publicly supported housing.  The following year, 1957, the New York State legislature considered the first bill in the nation prohibiting housing discrimination; and New York City became the first city to ban discrimination in private housing.  In 1959, Colorado was the first state to enact fair housing practices legislation.  President Kennedy issued Executive Order 11063 in 1962, which banned discrimination in federally supported housing.  Kennedy credited the NCDH for its role in the development of the order.

The NCDH developed Operation Open City, a metropolitan open housing center, in 1964 in New York City.  Also in 1964, the National Legal Conference on Equal Opportunity in Housing (cosponsored by NCDH and the University of California Law School) devised a legal strategy to combat anti-fair housing referenda.  In 1965, the NCDH sponsored the Capahosic Conference in Virginia, which developed the concept of a national metropolitan open housing movement and led to the establishment of a housing component in the federal anti-poverty program.  That year the NCDH received a contract for a two-year Office of Economic Opportunity demonstration project to develop metropolitan open housing programs in Atlanta, Denver, Providence, and Rochester.  The NCDH, also in 1965, led pressure to create an open housing market around an Atomic Energy Commission plant site in Illinois, resulting in the passage of 64 open housing laws in the surrounding community.  In 1966, the NCDH filed amicus curiae briefs in the California and United States Supreme Courts, challenging California’s Proposition 14.  On May 29, 1967, the proposition was found to be unconstitutional (Reitman v. Mulkey).  In 1967, the NCDH held a workshop on housing opportunities for anti-poverty officials from 36 states and published How the Federal Government Builds Ghettos, which led to reforms by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.  The NCDH established a Department of Field Services and Planning in 1968 as well as a Western Field Office in San Francisco and a Washington Bureau.  The Committee led the successful effort to pass the Fair Housing Act and the Housing and Urban Development act, both of 1968.  The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Jones V. Mayer Co. of 1968 upheld the constitutionality of an 1866 law providing discrimination in housing as “a badge of slavery.”  The NCDH submitted amicus curiae briefs and helped finance the litigation throughout the appeal.

In 1969, the NCDH established a Research Department and launched the HUD/ NCDH West Coast Project in the San Francisco Bay Area.  The NCDH also began the Carnegie Research project in 1969 in order to investigate minority access to jobs and housing in the New York metropolitan area.  In 1970, the NDCH led a nationwide campaign to pressure the Nixon Administration to enforce the federal fair housing laws.  The U.S. Supreme Court, in 1971, in James v. Valtierra, upheld a provision of the California Constitution requiring a referendum at the local level for the construction of a public housing project.  This was a defeat for the NCDH, which had submitted an amicus curiae brief in the case.

Note Author: Kenneth Coleman and Charles Johnson

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