Saturday, April 17, 2010

The way we were in the 1950s

I’ve heard about these things existing. They’re an urban legend, sort of. I knew they were out there but I’d never seen one in person.

Until now.

This is the text of the original CC&Rs on a property my buyer is purchasing at 24th St & Indian School in downtown Phoenix (the neighborhood was built between 1948 and 1958):

No lot or any portion thereof shall ever be sold, given, transferred, conveyed, let to, or occupied by any person who is, or whose spouse is of Negro, Mexican, Chinese, Japanese, Hindu, Turkish, Mongolian or Filipino descent, or of other than the Caucasian race; it being understood, however, that this provision shall not be interpreted to prevent the occupancy of such by domestic servants employed by a proper owner or tenant.

I’m actually a little sick to my stomach now.

It’s hard to imagine that only one generation ago racism was so accepted it was codified into neighborhood rules and regulations.

These kinds of legacy, racist deed restrictions are no longer enforceable. Federal Fair Housing Law swept away this sort of ugliness.

It’s been my experience that most home buyers don’t actually read the CC&Rs governing the homes they buy. So most homeowners in this neighborhood probably don’t even know this language existed, let alone agree with it.

Still, it’s a jaw-dropping reminder of how far we’ve come in just a few decades.

What should you do if your neighborhood has a rule like this in it’s governing documents? Federal Fair Housing law trumps these rules, so technically, you needn’t do anything. But if you want to, you can gather support from your neighbors to file a revision to your neighborhood’s CC&Rs. Knock on some doors and talk with your neighbors.  It might be a great opportunity to meet some of the folks the rules said you couldn’t live next to some 60 years ago.

(hat tip to our Tucson-area Realtor extraordinaire, Kelley Koehler, The Housechick who wrote about this in September 2009)