Remarks of Secretary Julián Castro
U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
2015 Fair Housing Conference
Tuesday, September 1, 2015
Washington, DC

Good morning, everyone.

Welcome to HUD's 2015 Fair Housing Policy Conference.

It's my great honor to be with you this morning and to share the stage with three distinguished public servants.

Thank you, Gustavo, for that kind introduction and for your strong leadership. Gustavo and the entire FHEO team do tremendous work to help families access opportunity in our country. 

I thank them all for their service and for organizing this great conference.

I'd also like to thank Senator Tim Kainefor joining us. 

He brings to this stage more than the prestige of his current office, but also his nearly two decades of powerful work as a fair housing lawyer.

So these issues aren't just political to him-they're personal-and I appreciate his leadership in Virginia and across the nation.

Let me also express my gratitude to a very special guest - a champion for fair housing, a hero to the HUD team, and a venerated American: former Vice President, Walter Mondale.

Throughout his public life, he's stood up for the rights and dignity of all Americans - no matter how the political winds were blowing at the time. 

Mr. Mondale, thank you for your lasting contributions. It's quite a privilege to welcome you to the room we named in your honor: the Brooke-Mondale Auditorium. 

Finally, let me thank all of you in the audience for your commitment to bringing about a more open housing market. 

You're our partners in progress. You help open new doors for families every single day. Keep up the good work!

This is why we gather today: because we share a common belief that every American deserves opportunity, regardless of what they look like, where they come from or who they worship, and a common resolve to do something about that. 

We know that everybody wins when a child gets a quality education, when a parent gets a good job and when the elderly have healthcare - and that a fair America is a thriving America.   

Equal opportunity is our nation's founding promise, but each generation has had to fight to make this promise real for all its citizens - advocating for equal treatment in classrooms, in public facilities, and in the voting booth. 

Eventually, this fight extended to the housing market in the 1960s - a time when blatant discrimination was still common.

In the summer of 1967, Carlos Campbell, an African American Navy Lieutenant testified at a hearing held by then Senator Mondale. 

Mr. Campbell had landed a job at the Department of Defense after years of decorated service in Vietnam, but found only closed doors when looking for housing near the Pentagon. 

Lt. Campbell visited nearly 40 places and encountered rejection after rejection. Some landlords said it would take weeks to process a routine application - clearly a lie. Others were more direct and said they didn't believe in integration. 

Carlos Campbell couldn't find housing in the very nation he risked everything to protect. His service, his job, his income, his character - all of it meant nothing. 

These landlords only saw his skin color, and this story played out in community after community, city after city, year after year.

The Kerner Commission famously wrote that "our nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white - separate and unequal." 

Housing discrimination cosigned many families to a life of poor health, bad schools and low-wage jobs with little hope for the future. 

But Walter Mondale and Ed Brooke didn't accept this fate for our nation, and their determination to right our nation's wrongs led to the passage of the Fair Housing Act of 1968 - boldly declaring that every American has the right to live where they choose.

We've come a long way since 1968. For example, this past June, the Supreme Court upheld the disparate impact standard, making it clear that the Fair Housing Act prohibits discriminatory policies, whether they're intentional or not. 

And every day brings us closer to the goal of a housing market that welcomes and respects everyone.

But the struggle for equal opportunity isn't complete. A HUD study revealed that families of color are shown fewer places and quoted higher prices. 

And communities remain highly-segregated by race, by national origin, by income - so there's still work to do. And HUD's role is as important as ever.

We've got a great network of partners, many of whom are in this room, - from the Department of Justice and state and local agencies who join us in this enforcement work; to the nonprofits who're carrying out this work in their communities; to the housing industry which is taking pro-active steps to promote better quality housing and greater housing choice for all.

This work is paying off. Over the past six years, we've helped get $330 million in compensation for more than 49,000 individuals that were allegedly subjected to housing discrimination.

Pregnant women denied loans by banks. Survivors of domestic violence evicted from their homes. Residents harassed by their landlords. HUD is here for them. 

And we're not just waiting till wrongdoing occurs - we're working with our partners to take proactive steps in eliminating barriers to opportunity.

In July, HUD announced our new Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule to provide families with the housing choice vouchers they need to move into communities of opportunity. 

It also gives local leaders new tools to improve their planning by helping maximize investmentsin affordable housing, in bus stops and trains, in new schools and other community assets - all in ways that give every American a chance to thrive. 

We're working closely with cities across the nation, breaking through silos, to boost opportunity and to ensure that every family's destiny is determined by their effort and talent, not by where they were born.

This is an exciting time for all Americans who care about fair housing. Our nation has made significant strides in shaping a society that's open to all.   

None of this would be possible without the vision, the wisdom, and the determination of Walter Mondale. 

"There is no doubt that national fair housing legislation is a controversial issue, but they require action" he once said. "The barriers of housing discrimination stifle hope and achievement."

"They tell citizens trapped in an urban slum there is no escape. Outlawing discrimination in the sale or rental of housing will not free those trapped in ghetto squalor, but it is an absolutely essential first step which must be taken-and taken soon."

Walter Mondale helped our nation take that step in 1968, and he displayed that courage time and again.

Through his service to our nation as a corporal in the U.S. Army. 

Through his time in government - as a Senator, an Ambassador and as Vice President.

And even in his political life with his decision to put the first woman on a Presidential ticket, Geraldine Ferraro.

He is a hero for all those who can now walk through doors that were once closed, and it's a pleasure to have him-one of the fathers of fair housing-here today.

Please join me in welcoming former Vice President, Walter Mondale. 

Thank you again, Mr. Vice President, for your insight and for joining us today.

And now I have the pleasure of introducing another accomplished public servant.

Senator Tim Kaine is no stranger to this community. He's dedicated much of his career to fair housing and has spent decades helping families secure decent, affordable housing.

He's taken those values and that fighting spirit to the U.S. Senate where he's been a champion for working families, and I'm so pleased he could join us today. 

Please help me give a warm welcome to Senator Tim Kaine.


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