Nov 2, 2020
Growing awareness among real estate professionals has resulted in a clearer understanding that fair housing in America is still an issue. Bryan Greene is the Director of Fair Housing Policy at NAR, and he joins Monica to discuss the state of fair housing in America. He talks about the history that led us to where we are today, as well as what tools NAR is using to help their agents start making a change and help create a more fair and equitable industry.
Bryan worked in government for 29 years before making the transition to NAR. He shares his background, and how his desire to make a difference is what led him to work within the real estate industry. Housing is one of the biggest civil rights issues, but also one of the avenues where the industry can have the biggest impact.
Along with some recommended reading, Bryan shares the history around segregation in housing. It started out as a private practice, in the form of covenants, but was adopted as official government policy. These policies created patterns — such as generational wealth — that continue to show up today, even though the laws have changed over time.
Bryan was hired in a new position as the Director of Fair Housing Policy at NAR. After reading and viewing footage of agents interacting with clients in Long Island, the disparity was apparent. He talks about his role to respond, accept responsibility, and explain to the public how NAR would address these issues. The two things that stuck out were the need for accountability and a culture change.
They are triangulating the issue from all sides: mind, heart, and body. Their acronym is ACT!: accountability, culture change, and training. They are doing more immersive training where agents can practice and react to different simulated situations. One of the best ways to learn in any business is from your peers — one of the initiatives they have is to highlight those agents that are successful and practicing fair and equitable real estate.
Moving from education into action is one of the most important ways things can start to change. In addition to these videos and profiling different agents and companies, they are also looking at what effects this issue of segregation has on the economy. There is data that shows if some of the larger metro cities were less segregated, their GDP would be higher. School districts and how agents discuss them with clients are another avenue NAR is exploring as a means to promote fair housing. There’s more to consider than just a district’s test scores.
The many tragic events in 2020 have highlighted the thread of injustice and housing segregation. But 2020 has also been an opportunity for many people to learn, and begin to change. REALTORS® have a responsibility to make things fairer, but other parties like lenders, insurance companies, and other parties can also contribute to the disparities we see.
The law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, and religion; while these shouldn’t have anything to do with housing, they historically (and even still) have, and they have had an enduring impact. As more awareness has come up around these issues, there are action steps you can start taking today. There are many communities around the country that recognize what has happened in the past and are taking steps to change things now. The real estate industry can engage with some of these same politicians and strategies, especially at the local level, to make things right.
“I believe that right now NAR is the most effective place to make a difference on civil rights issues.” — Bryan
“It immediately thrust me into the role of responding, making sure that we accept responsibility for what we see, and explain to the public and the Hill how we were addressing these issues.” — Bryan
“If we could make real progress on some of these issues regarding segregation, we could start to turn the corner so that the next time we have something tragic, maybe we won’t fare as poorly.” — Bryan
The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America, by Richard Rothstein
American Apartheid: Segregation and the Making of the Underclass, by Douglas Massey and Nancy Denton
Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism, by James Loewen
The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap, by Mehrsa Baradaran
Online learning.REALTOR for NAR Online Education
Training4RE.com — List of Classroom Courses from NAR and its affiliates
Monica’s Facebook Page
Bryan Greene, Director, Fair Housing Policy, at the National Association of REALTORS®
Bryan Greene is the Director of Fair Housing Policy at the National Association of REALTORS®. Bryan is responsible for representing NAR on all fair-housing-related federal regulatory and legislative matters to ensure the interests of consumers and the real estate industry interests are protected. He also manages NAR’s new 45-member Fair Housing Policy Committee which allows NAR to focus more attention on the public policy issues surrounding fair housing and equal opportunity while better supporting its strategic priority of enhancing housing equality.
Before joining NAR, Bryan served for ten years as the highest-ranking career official in HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO), where he oversaw the policy direction and operational management of the 600-person office enforcing the nation’s housing anti-discrimination laws. Under Bryan’s leadership as FHEO General Deputy Assistant Secretary, HUD pursued large-scale, high-profile cases that addressed systemic discrimination and provided widespread relief. Bryan also managed HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program (FHAP) and HUD’s Fair Housing Initiatives Program (FHIP), which together provided over $70 million to state and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations fighting discrimination in local communities. Bryan held several senior positions at HUD over three decades at the agency, including a stint as the Associate Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs in HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R), where he worked to reduce regulatory barriers to affordable housing. Bryan was the 2007 recipient of the Presidential Rank Award, the highest federal honor bestowed upon federal senior executives for outstanding service.
Bryan earned his degree in Government from Harvard University.