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State Rep. Sarah Anthony proposes bill to remove discriminatory language from deeds

Posted at 9:49 AM, Jun 01, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — When Bill Castanier, the president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, bought his house on the north side of town in 1979, he was shocked to see a restriction in his deed that read “Only persons of the Caucasian race should have the right of habitation or dwelling of any of said property.”

“Restrictive deeds were one of many techniques to keep minorities and marginalized citizens outside of certain neighborhoods,” Castanier said. “The idea behind it was Realtors believe the value of housing would fall if marginalized citizens lived next door to white people.”

Restrictive deeds were common in areas like East Lansing, the Moores Park neighborhood and the Groesbeck neighborhood.

In 1968, the Fair Housing act made that sort of discrimination illegal, but the language in older deeds remained.

“Even right here, right now, in the Lansing area, there are housing deeds that continue to have language that are very discriminatory,” state Rep. Sarah Anthony said. “Language that says off you are an African American you can’t stay in this home unless you’re a servant language that says if you are a woman or Jewish you can’t own this property.”

Since 2018, Anthony has been working with Ingham County Register of deeds Derrick Quinney to craft House Bill 4416.

If passed, the bill will help remove discriminatory and offensive language from some deeds.

“My bill says, for a home owner who wants to remove that language, and have a fresh start, there’s a process, an easy process for home owners to do just that,” Anthony said.

The process involves signing a simple form with your county’s register of deeds office.

House Bill 4416 would still need to be approved by the legislature.

Anthony said if the bill passes, it will be a step in the right direction.

“This is a small, small thing that hopefully allows room for more serious conversations about equitable housing here in Michigan,” she said.

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Tianna Jenkins

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