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NAR/HUD RENEW FAIR HOUSING COMMITMENT

 NAR/HUD RENEW FAIR HOUSING COMMITMENT
 WASHINGTON, July 21 /PRNewswire/ -- The National Association of


Realtors (NAR) and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, renewed their commitment to provide all consumers the opportunity for fair housing. The two groups today signed a newly revised Voluntary Affirmative Marketing Agreement (VAMA) designed to create more flexibility in its approach to fair housing.
 The VAMA was first established in 1975 between NAR and HUD to help ensure fair housing practices in the real estate industry by providing signatories with guidelines on marketing, advertising, training and education for Realtors and the public. The VAMA also encourages cooperation with community-based fair housing and civil rights groups.
 Signing the agreement today were NAR President Dorcas T. Helfant, a realtor from Virginia Beach, Va., and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp.
 "This agreement punctuates NAR's Code of Ethics, which calls for Realtors to be committed to equal housing opportunities for everyone," Helfant said.
 "We were successful in our negotiations to remove some procedures from the old VAMA that hindered the participation of some of our smaller boards because of limited budgets and staff. We now expect broad participation in the new VAMA by our local Realtor associations and our members," Helfant added.
 "We have a commitment to protect people's rights to fair housing. It's more than a business commitment; it's a moral commitment," said Jean Yassky, a realtor with Rockland Realty-Better Homes & Gardens, Spring Valley, N.Y., and chairman of NAR's Equal Opportunity Committee.
 This latest renewal of the VAMA includes revisions to the original agreement that provide more user-friendly guidelines and give signatories greater flexibility in their efforts to adhere to fair housing principles in their daily business dealings.
 Changes in the new VAMA include:
 -- Standardizing the size of the fair housing logo required in display advertising. Under the previous agreement, the size of the logo depended on the size of the advertisement.
 -- Requiring participating state and local associations of Realtors to conduct self-assessments of their fair housing- related efforts and the efforts of their member firms. NAR is developing a self assessment form for state and local associations to use in this effort.
 -- Providing HUD with the authority to spot check the efforts of VAMA participants to ensure fair housing principles are followed properly.
 -- Requiring local associations to seek a cooperative approach with community-based fair housing and civil rights groups to identify and remove barriers to equal opportunity in housing in the community. The new agreement provides flexibility in the development of these relationships as opposed to the old agreement's requirement that HUD organize Community Housing Resource Boards.
 -- Requiring, for the first time, subscribing realtors to develop, adopt and implement procedures for fair housing marketing, adverting and office management. NAR will develop sample procedures to guide members in developing procedures for their firms. Members have the flexibility to tailor those procedures to fit their business styles and practices.
 NAR has produced a new fair housing handbook, which is expected to be available for sale to members by late summer, to assist Realtors in meeting the requirements of the new VAMA.
 "We have an agreement that shows a win-win attitude between HUD and NAR and especially a win attitude toward fair housing for the people of the United States," said Pat Vredevoogd of AJS Realty, Inc., Grand Rapids, Mich., who led NAR's VAMA negotiating team in 1991.
 "The VAMA is finally a user friendly document that lays out all the cards on the table. The state and local Realtor groups and NAR know what is expected of them under this new agreement," Vredevoogd added.
 "This VAMA will undoubtedly increase our cooperation with HUD. Both HUD and NAR agreed at the very onset of negotiations that we need to work together to ensure fair housing for all," she added.
 Hazel W. Lewis, a realtor with Lewis & Associates, Realtors, Arlington, Texas, and 1992 vice chairman of NAR's Equal Opportunity Committee, added: "This understanding and communication between NAR and HUD with respect to our role at the local and state level in achieving fair housing, is much better understood under the new VAMA. The negotiation process was more amiable than ever and the agreement is not so burdensome on members and boards."
 The National Association of Realtors, "The Voice for Real Estate," is the nation's largest trade association, representing nearly 750,000 members involved in all aspects of real estate industry.
 -0- 7/21/92
 /CONTACT: Annemarie Roketenetz, 202-383-7560, or Liz Duncan, 202-383-1043, both of the National Association of Realtors/ CO: National Association of Realtors; U.S. Department of Housing
 and Urban Development ST: District of Columbia IN: SU: EXE


DC -- DC025 -- 1436 07/21/92 14:36 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Jul 21, 1992
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