In January of 2001, Arkansas passed Act 1785 of 2001, to provide fair housing and fair lending enforcement within its borders. The law was amended over the next two years to allow Arkansas’s fair housing and fair lending laws to obtain substantial equivalency with federal legislation and qualify Arkansas to participate in U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Fair Housing Assistance Program. During this period, HUD provided technical assistance and legal analysis to assist Arkansas in developing its fair housing law and create the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission – a regulatory body charged with investigating and resolving fair housing and fair lending complaints in Arkansas. In July of 2003, Arkansas enacted an amended fair housing law which provides substantially equivalent the same protections as the federal Fair Housing Act.
With the passage of Act 1785 of 2001, HUD recognized the Arkansas Fair Housing Act as being “substantially equivalent” to the federal Fair Housing Act and allowed Arkansas to join other States already participating in HUD’s Fair Housing Assistance Program.
In a ceremony held on August 20, 2003, HUD Assistant Secretary Carolyn Peoples joined Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and HUD FHEO Regional Director Garry Sweeney in celebrating the addition of the State of Arkansas to the Fair Housing Assistance Program.
Approximately 50 people attended the ceremony held at the State Capitol in Little Rock, Arkansas, including Little Rock Mayor Jim Dailey, members of the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission, representatives from the Arkansas Realtors Association, the Little Rock Racial and Cultural Diversity Commission, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the HUD Little Rock field office.
The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission held its first formal meeting at the State Capitol on September 16, 2003, and opened its first permanent office on June 1, 2003, at 101 E. Capitol Avenue, Suite 212, Little Rock, Arkansas. The Commission meets quarterly on the third Thursday of the month at 1:30 p.m..
In 2008, the Arkansas Fair Housing Commission graduated to a “contributions agency” status with the responsibility of processing 100% of all fair housing violations within the state. That year AFHC received nearly 200 fair housing complaints for alleged infractions occurring within the State’s borders and was responsible for resolving all of those complaints. Since 2008, the Commission has continued to see increases in fair housing and fair lending complaints throughout the state.
The Arkansas Fair Housing Commission is the only state agency in Arkansas specifically charged with fair housing and fair lending enforcement and education. As a state agency, AFHC is uniquely poised to enforce the Fair Housing Act and to cooperate with and provide technical and other assistance to federal, state, local and other public or private entities that are formulating or operating programs to prevent or eliminate discriminatory housing practices. Prior to enactment of state legislation, fair housing and fair lending violations were investigated at a regional as opposed to state/local level.
AFHC is a quasi-judicial, regulatory agency charged with enforcing fair housing and fair lending laws within the entire state and constitutes the sole civil rights enforcement agency within the state’s borders.