The Michigan House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance is slated to take action on House Bill 4676 this Wednesday, introduced by State Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) to create the Prohibited Restrictive Covenants Act. The bill will prohibit deed restrictions on the basis of race, gender, religion and other protected classes.
“While the language included in these deeds is no longer legally enforceable, it still exists in writing and serves as a reminder of the legacy of discrimination and segregation, along with its enduring impacts on our state to this day,” said Anthony. “This legislation provides a pathway forward for communities across Michigan to critically examine our history and take the necessary steps to ensure we can provide a truly welcoming place for all residents.”
Restrictive covenants nationwide have served as a means to prevent people of color from purchasing homes in predominantly white communities, historically working in tandem with widespread red-lining practices to uphold segregated housing policies.
“These bills are an essential step in repairing historical racial inequities and a proclamation that racism has no home in Michigan,” said Charles Hobbs, Chairperson of Lansing’s local ACLU chapter.
Despite the federal Fair Housing Act prohibiting discrimination in housing practices after its passage in 1968, the legacy of the prejudiced and unconstitutional language remains ingrained in many property deeds throughout Michigan.
HB 4676 would also provide a method for homeowners, property owners, or corresponding associations to remove discriminatory language from a deed or association documents.
“Although each county’s register of deeds may not have been part of the historical problem surrounding the discriminatory nature of restrictive covenants, it’s important for us to be part of the solution in helping to identify harmful language from past property deeds,” said Ingham County Register of Deeds Derrick Quinney. “I’m happy to see further progress on this important legislation and look forward to doing my part to foster a more equitable Michigan.”
The Michigan House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance is set to convene on Wednesday, Dec. 2, at 10:30 a.m., with a likely vote on HB 4676. To view a livestream of the Committee’s video feed via House TV, visit house.mi.gov/htv.asp.