I get to be the lucky has-been on the Diversity Committee since I was the immediate past-chair last year so this group is near and dear to my heart. This room is always packed and overflows with standing room only!
We just announced officially that the Diversity Committee has been split to handle policy through the new Federal Fair Housing Policy Committee while the Diversity and Inclusion Committee will handle concerns about inclusiveness and the need to increase inclusivity efforts within the membership and leadership at the local, state, and national level.
Exciting news: We just learned that HUD is on our side: False letters claiming a need for emotional support animals and the usage of animals by people abusing the system should be investigated!
Here’s the official scoop:
NAR is commending HUD and Secretary Ben Carson for its announcement Friday to protect those who rely on the assistance of companion animals while preventing undeserving individuals from exploiting the system.
The Fair Housing Act requires property owners and managers to make reasonable accommodations to allow persons with disabilities to live in and enjoy residential housing. Many persons with disabilities require an assistance animal, like guide dogs for the blind and emotional assistance animals for those suffering from PTSD or depression. While online entities offer certificates for people to secure such accommodations, there is virtually no regulation of these providers and some even offer certifications without examining the individuals requesting them.
"REALTORS® believe that a healthcare professional should have a patient or therapeutic relationship with an individual before certifying his or her disability”, says NAR President John Smaby. NAR intends to work closely with the White House to secure regulatory change as expeditiously as possible.
The Diversity Committee then passed the recommendation from the Professional Standards Committee to update to the Standard of Practice that REALTORS® may not refuse to cooperate on the basis of a broker's race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familiar status, national origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity.
We had roundtable meetings to discuss increasing diversity and inclusion in NAR committees and discussed all the multicultural groups and their outreach and meetings.
I got to discuss a horrible incident that happened to one of our LGBT REALTORS®s where his yard sign was defaced with hate speech. Georgia REALTORS® was amazing and within 24 hours had a response sent to all its members condemning hate speech and the cowardice of what happened. This is the power of the REALTOR® network - we work together, we support each other, we REALTORS® have each other's back. This is how a REALTOR® association should respond.
Our Vice Chair of Diversity, Bikel Frenelle, just announced that her group in the graduating class of this Leadership Academy has won its shark tank idea: they found that only 16 states have a Diversity Committee. They have developed a pin to present to state presidents at NAR conferences to recognize that their diversity committee. For those that do not, a blueprint will be provided about how to do so, and then the pin will be provided. It was awesome to see Fred Underwood, our staff executive, receive the first set of pins for all his hard work.