The Fight Against Housing Discrimination in Virginia Beach

As an expert in civil rights in Virginia Beach, I have witnessed firsthand the devastating effects of housing discrimination on marginalized communities. While many may think of Virginia Beach as a popular tourist destination with beautiful beaches and a thriving economy, the reality is that the city has a long history of housing discrimination that has greatly impacted the civil rights of its residents.

The History of Housing Discrimination in Virginia Beach

Housing discrimination in Virginia Beach can be traced back to the early 20th century when segregation laws were enforced, separating Black and white communities. These laws, known as Jim Crow laws, were used to maintain racial segregation and deny Black Americans access to housing, education, and other basic rights. Even after these laws were abolished in the 1960s, housing discrimination continued in more subtle forms.


, a practice where banks and insurance companies would deny loans or insurance to certain neighborhoods based on their racial makeup, was prevalent in Virginia Beach.

This led to the creation of predominantly Black neighborhoods with limited access to resources and opportunities. In addition, discriminatory practices such as steering, where real estate agents would only show homes in certain neighborhoods based on race, and blockbusting, where agents would use fear tactics to convince white homeowners to sell their homes at a lower price, further perpetuated segregation and limited housing options for people of color.

The Impact on Civil Rights

The effects of housing discrimination on civil rights in Virginia Beach are far-reaching. One of the most significant impacts is the perpetuation of racial segregation. By limiting access to certain neighborhoods and resources, housing discrimination has created a stark divide between predominantly white and predominantly Black communities. This segregation has also had a direct impact on education. Schools in predominantly Black neighborhoods often have fewer resources and lower quality education compared to schools in predominantly white neighborhoods.

This perpetuates the cycle of poverty and limits opportunities for children of color. Furthermore, housing discrimination has also had a negative impact on the economic opportunities available to people of color in Virginia Beach. By limiting access to certain neighborhoods and resources, people of color are often unable to build wealth through homeownership and are forced to live in areas with limited job opportunities.

The Fight for Fair Housing

Despite the long history of housing discrimination in Virginia Beach, there have been efforts to combat these practices and promote fair housing. In 1968, the Fair Housing Act was passed, making it illegal to discriminate against someone based on their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or familial status. In 1972, the City of Virginia Beach established the Human Rights Commission to investigate complaints of discrimination in housing and employment. This commission has played a crucial role in enforcing fair housing laws and promoting equal opportunities for all residents. More recently, organizations such as the Virginia Beach Fair Housing Board have been working to educate the community about fair housing laws and provide resources for those who have experienced discrimination.

The Current State of Housing Discrimination in Virginia Beach

While progress has been made in combating housing discrimination in Virginia Beach, it is still a prevalent issue.

According to a 2019 report by the National Fair Housing Alliance, Virginia Beach had the highest number of reported housing discrimination complaints in the state. Furthermore, gentrification has become a growing concern in Virginia Beach. As property values increase and new developments are built, long-time residents are being pushed out of their homes due to rising costs. This disproportionately affects low-income communities and communities of color.


Housing discrimination has had a significant impact on civil rights in Virginia Beach. It has perpetuated racial segregation, limited economic opportunities, and hindered access to quality education for people of color.

While progress has been made, there is still much work to be done to ensure fair housing for all residents of Virginia Beach.

Kaitlyn Haldiman
Kaitlyn Haldiman

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