April is the month when we REALTORS celebrate the passage of the Fair Housing Act of congress in 1968 by sponsoring events and offering education focusing on housing discrimination and segregation, with a recommitment to expanding equal access to housing for all.

If we step back in time, we can all see that segregation in housing in big and large cities alike didn’t happen randomly. Pockets of racial and ethnic makeup often live there because of extremely specific laws that were passed to either try and put them there or keep them there. Think of high end neighborhoods you know of around our country with large homes on larger lots. The diversity of peoples is most likely non-existent at best, with most expensive homes being owned by whites. Over the centuries these landowners have helped to create and enforce zoning rules that put a virtual wall up to keep diversity of housing out-no apartment buildings, duplexes/triplexes, very few townhomes. And as housing prices rise and affordable housing product vanishes, we hear pushback from the NIMBY landowners who may support the concept of affordable housing… if it’s not in their backyard.

During the Trump years, the HUD Secretary (Ben Carson) didn’t seem to initiate or fight for sweeping changes in national housing policies. The overall affordable housing shortage worsened under Carson’s term, HUD’s budget was cut and there was no increase in Section 8 housing vouchers for families in desperate need of rental housing. Obama’s presidency created programs to racially diversify and create more affordable housing in the suburbs, but those programs were axes by Trump, as were the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing regulations. The latter Trump cut to appease white suburban women before the 2020 presidential election. Carson pushed to make sure that government-funded homeless shelters refused to allow transgender people in housing based on gender identities. Luckily, Biden is committed to wiping out all laws against trans people in housing.

My National Assn. of REALTORS has a new and encouraging Fair Housing Action Plan to help ensure our 1.3 million REALTORS are doing as much as we can to protect housing rights in America by educating not just ourselves but the public in the topic. We are hoping to increase our partnerships with governments and private housing providers/developers to promote best practices to prevent discrimination and foster diverse, inclusive communities in this country.  Most important though, I want you to know that IF for any reason you feel you’ve been discriminated in trying to rent or buy a home because of your race, color, sex, national origin, or religion you can file a complaint with HUD. If they determine discrimination might have occurred, the case would be sent to an administrative hearing or Federal District Court. If a judge finds discrimination did occur, the guilty one could be ordered to compensate you for damages, make housing available, pay a penalty and/or attorney’s fees.

There’s a great movie “The Banker” out with Samuel L. Jackson about two black entrepreneurs in the 1960’s who hatched an ingenious business plan to fight for housing integration with equal access to the American Dream.



The 2021 City Nature Challenge is almost here to get us out from in front of our computers and NETFLIX binges and into our neighborhoods, parks and even our downtowns. From April 30-May 3, people from around the world are about to join in a chance to document their local nature using the iNaturalist app.

Let’s think for a moment past the never ending documentaries on television on how our planet is dying and get out and smell some nature and help document what is beyond our front door. There are native trees like Desert Willow, Mountain Mahogany and Bigtooth Maple. None of these trees blew over in the hurricane winds of last Labor Day Weekend! Then there are all the wildflowers starting to poke their heads up, such as White Sand, Snowball Sand and Desert Sand Verbenas, Common Yarrow, Desert Rock Peas, Horsemint Giant Hyssop, Northern Water Plantains and our state flower, the Sego Lily. Many of our local nurseries in the state have expanded their native plant selections and it’s fun to discover what will grow in our yards each year. And less we forget the evil garden weeds also vying for garden space, ones that fool us with their flowers and take over the yard like: Common Mallow, Bindweed, Henbit, Morning Glory, Prickly Lettuce, and the Scarlet Pimpernel. And don’t forget on your adventure to note Dandelions and grasses such as the evil Crabgrass, Hare Barley, Junglerice and Perennial Ryegrass.  I have a newer IPhone that has Google Lens on it, where I just click on the lens icon, point at the plant and viola! it tells me what I’m seeing.

The City Nature Challenge asked you to take pictures of what you find and share with fellow nature lovers and tree huggers. The Natural History Museum of Utah and over a dozen other organizations throughout Northern Utah are in on this event to help us all document our wild neighbors outside our homes.

As a side bar, I know there are urban foresters around the state who help cities and counties with advice and help in planning more indigenous flora. I drove by a school last week where they were planting a long row of small pines along a fence line and I gasped when I recognized that the fir was not a native plant and a tree which would require much water and have short roots-making them susceptible to being blown over in high winds. If you weren’t living in the tri-city area along the Wasatch mountains back in September of 2020, you missed hurricane winds that yanked out 100-year-old trees all over our valleys. My all-time favorite tree nicknamed ‘Thor’ came out ok. This male Fremont Cottonwood doesn’t give off cotton and is located just north of The Bagel Project at 753 S. 500 E. He was planted in 1857 by Peter Beck Hansen.  History has it that Brigham Young told his followers to ‘forest the valley’ when they got here, and thus Thor was planted and thrives to this day with deep, deep roots to the artesian well in the neighborhood (where you can get water 24/7 at the park on the corner of 800 So and 500 E