Prairie Action ND

Fair Housing Month Reminds Us There is Work Left To Do to Ensure Fair Housing for Alls

By: Michelle Rydz, Executive Director, High Plains Fair Housing Center

April 1, 2024

This month all over the state of North Dakota we commemorate Fair Housing Month with trainings, panel discussions, movies, library displays, and city and state proclamations celebrating this important legislation. The Fair Housing Act, passed days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., aimed to do two things:

  • Eradicate discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), national origin, disability, and familial status
  • Promote residential integration


It was a vital step forward in promoting fairness and equality in housing opportunities, yet the battle for equitable housing access continues.

The theme of this year’s Fair Housing Month is the “Act” in Action. Events throughout the month focus on two important consequences of housing discrimination that stand in the way of free and open housing; 1) high rates of eviction and 2) disparities of homeownership for persons of color.

In Fargo, we will discuss the prevalence of high eviction rates and how high eviction rates impact families with children, individuals with disabilities, Native Americans, and other protected classes. Evictions not only disrupt lives but also perpetuate cycles of poverty and housing instability, leading to a range of negative social and economic outcomes.

In Bismarck and Grand Forks, we will discuss the need to improve access to homeownership for persons of color. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Dakota has the nation’s most significant racial homeownership gap, at 52.0 percentage points, signifying the highest racial disparity gap for homeownership in the country. This is especially troublesome as homeownership is considered an essential tool for wealth-building. This is illustrated in the point that the median net wealth of a middle-aged homeowner is $219,600, while the median net wealth of a middle-aged tenant is $6,590.

Fair Housing Month serves as a reminder of the ongoing work needed to achieve fair and equitable housing for all. By taking proactive steps to address housing discrimination we can build more inclusive communities where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

In the spirit of “The ACT in Action,” let us commit to advancing fair housing policies, supporting vulnerable communities, and working towards a future where housing justice is a reality for everyone.

Michelle Rydz is executive director of High Plains Fair Housing Center