Through My Lens

Apr 10, 2024

Through My Lens by Doreen Spagnuolo, LIBOR CEO

by Doreen Spagnuolo, LIBOR CEO

Living Fair Housing

If you ever want to test whether humans develop an early sense of fairness, give one kid a much larger slice of cake at a birthday party and wait for the others’ outcries of, “That’s not fair!”

The concept of fairness facilitates human social cooperation and helps society run more smoothly. But, sometimes, it doesn’t quite work out that way. That’s why the Fair Housing Act was signed in 1968 to address persistent inequities and a lack of fairness in housing opportunities. Our industry commemorates that event each April as Fair Housing Month.

For Long Island Board of REALTORS®, leading on Fair Housing is more than just the right thing to do. If you want to be successful in real estate today, protected classes are not abstract concepts. People belonging to protected categories[1] are our neighbors, colleagues, prospects, clients and family members. They are us.

That’s why LIBOR has taken clear steps to demonstrate our unwavering focus on Fair Housing. Our Home for All of Us website features content for both REALTORS® and consumers/landlords. We supported a housing choice voucher event at the Town of Brookhaven because of our commitment to educating on protected class/Source of Income.

Through these actions and others, we’re making a statement that it’s not good enough for LIBOR to solely be an exemplary adherent or even a vehement proponent of Fair Housing. To fulfill our mission of uniting our REALTOR® members in promoting the benefits and ensuring the future of real property for all, LIBOR must be a change agent.

To that end, LIBOR has strengthened our relationships with leading Fair Housing advocates such as Long Island Housing Services. We’ve become an ally to stakeholders such as Community Development Long Island, Long Island Housing Partnership, Long Island Builders Institute, Erase Racism, Long Island Association and the Association for a Better Long Island to work for increased housing inventory, fairness and accessibility.

With advocacy being a major artery of the association, the REALTOR® voice is being heard in legislative chambers at all levels of government. LIBOR testified at the Huntington Town Council hearing on the expansion of Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) laws, continues to fight for more transparency in the process of buying and selling of co-ops, and, most recently, walked the halls of the New York State Capitol at NYSAR Lobby Day advocating for more housing opportunities for ALL.

For members, LIBOR offers multiple ways to learn about Fair Housing, including free Wednesday webinars this month. On April 15, our Stay Inside Fair Housing Laws in-person, member event is approved for 3 hours CE credit and includes 3 hours of DOS Mandated Fair Housing Training. We publish free, monthly legal updates that include Fair Housing topics and we conduct first-time home buyer seminars, including a well-attended one that was held on April 4 in Baldwin with a Nassau County legislator.

LIBOR has also made changes to make a commitment to Fair Housing and fairness part of its fabric. Fairhaven is now a membership requirement for all new REALTOR® applicants. LIBOR leadership and committee members must also complete Fairhaven to be eligible to serve. We’ve instituted transparent processes, diversified committee membership and removed potential barriers to participation via rolling committee applications. We’ve also improved the way we select award recipients and make appointments to the NAR Board.

These steps are designed to make LIBOR stronger by becoming more reflective of our membership. I hope that you’ll join us in actively driving the change that you want to see in your community and your business.