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Hawaii's Fair Housing Act
From the President's Desk (Marguerite Simson)
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Hawaii's Fair Housing Act

Hawaii's Fair Housing Act preceded the new Federal Civil Rights Bill by one year. It appears in the Revised Laws of Hawaii as Act 193 Relating to the Prevention of Discrimination in Real Property Transactions. It was introduced in the 1967 General Session of the Legislature as Senate Bill No. 786. It was passed and took effect upon approval by Gov. John Burns, June 4, 1967. According to the report of the House Judiciary Committee, this bill reflects many of the provisions of the Model Anti-Discrimination Act of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws. In the words of the standing committee's report:

"This bill is intended to be a complete, strong and

fair law against discrimination in real property

transactions. It is based on the experiences of

more than twenty years in more than twenty states

and embodies what are thought to be the best

features of existing laws against this type of

discrimination.

Your Committee believes that there is not at present

a serious housing discrimination problem in Hawaii,

that fair housing legislation is preventative

legislation, and that fair housing legislation now

will assure equal access to housing for all in

Hawaii in the future."

ACT 193

A Bill for an Act Relating to the Prevention of Discrimination in Real Property Transactions. PURPOSE. (a) The purpose of this Act is to secure for all individuals within the State freedom from discrimination because of race, color, religion, or national origin in connection with real property transactions, and thereby to protect their interest in personal dignity, to make available to the State their full productive capacities, to secure the State against domestic strife and unrest, to preserve the public safety, health and general welfare, and to promote the interests, rights and privileges of individuals within the State.

SUMMARY OF BASIC PROVISIONS

DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES

It is forbidden to practice any of the following because of race, color, religion or national origin:

  1. Refuse to engage in a real estate transaction.

  2. Use discriminatory terms in such a transaction.

  3. Refuse to transmit or negotiate a bona-fide offer.

  4. Represent that a property is not available when in fact it is.

  5. Use discriminatory advertising.

  6. Attempt Blockbusting through

    (a) representing that a change has occurred or may occur in a neighborhood because of the introduction of a particular family;

    (b) representing that such a change will lower property values.

FINANCIAL PRACTICES

The Act recognizes that to be effective there must be provisions prohibiting discrimination by financial institutions.

Discrimination is forbidden in considering applications for financial aid to purchase, construct or improve property; or to use restrictions in contracts.

EXEMPTIONS

Exempted from the above provisions are:

  1. Rental of living space in an owner-occupied home.

  2. Rental of a unit in a two-family home occupied by the owner or a member of his family.

  3. Religious, charitable or educational institutions controlled by their organizations may give preference to their members in any real property transaction, as well as in contracts.

ENFORCEMENT

Enforcement of the provisions of this Act is placed in the Department of Regulatory Agencies whose authority includes protection of consumer interests, supervision of financial institutions, and administration of the real estate license commission. It has the power to investigate, seek to conciliate, hold hearings and to pass on complaints; and to otherwise effectuate the purposes of this Act.

A sum of $20,000, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated to the department for enforcement.

COMPLAINT PROCEEDINGS. Section 10

  1. A complainant must file a written complaint with the department within ninety days after an alleged discriminatory act. The department must promptly investigate.

  2. If within sixty days the &apartment decides there is no reasonable cause for the complaint it shall be dismissed. The respondent is entitled to recover from the complainant attorney's fee, not to exceed $100, if such cost is incurred.

  3. Should the department find the complaint justified, it shall try to eliminate the alleged discrimination by conciliation and persuasion. Neither the department nor its employees may make public, without written consent of the parties concerned, information about the case.

  4. Within a year from date of conciliation agreement the department shall investigate whether its terms are being complied with. If not the department shall take action as authorized.

  5. 1. The department may file a petition in circuit court seeking temporary relief against the respondent pending final decision on the complaint. But this relief shall not extend beyond five days except by consent of the respondent and the court's finding reasonable cause to believe there has been discrimination practiced.

    2. If the complaint is dismissed by the department or court after a court has granted temporary relief or a restraining order, the respondent shall be entitled to recover from the State damages and costs, not to exceed a total of $500.

HEARINGS-OTHER ENFORCEMENT PROVISIONS

Other provisions of the Act insure the respondent a fair hearing on a complaint.

Should discrimination be proved, the complainant is assured of the advantages, facilities, privileges and services of the respondent. He may receive (a) payment of profits obtained by the respondent through violation, or (b) payment of damages caused by the discriminatory practice including a reasonable attorney's fee. Unless greater damages are shown, damages may be assessed at $500 for each violation.

Thirty days after an order is issued, unless a judicial review is pending, the department may publish the name of a person engaged in a discriminatory practice.

A complainant or respondent aggrieved by an order of the department may obtain a judicial review.

OTHER DISCRIMINATORY PRACTICES

These include;

  1. retaliation against participants in a case;

  2. interference with the department in exercise of its duties;

  3. trying to prevent a person from complying with this Act;

  4. violating the terms of a conciliation agreement.


NAACP SPOKESMAN EXPRESSES AN OPINION

Asked to express an opinion about this legislation, a spokesman for the Hawaii branch of the NAACP said that he is glad that Hawaii has this law. He expressed some concern, however, over Section 10(b), an amendment added by the House Judiciary Committee which says: "The respondent is entitled to recover from the complainant attorney's fee, not to exceed $100." To date there % have been no complaints made under this law to the Department of Agencies, and he believes that this section may have been a deterrent. A recent case of alleged discrimination is under study by an NAACP lawyer who expects to bring it before the department.


WHAT IS A GHETTO???

"Right away we think of a city slum. But there is another kind of ghetto--an interior ghetto of the mind where we seal off parts of democracy that don't suit us, where we box off our obligations to justice and shut out our commitments to fairness . . . Right now all of us have ghettos to get out of."

Sergeant Shriven

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