Barack Obama photo

The President's Weekly Address

July 11, 2015

Hi, everybody. It's our job as citizens to make sure we keep pushing this country we love towards our most cherished ideals: that all of us are created equal, all of us deserve an equal shot. This week, my administration took new steps to bring us closer to that goal.

Almost 50 years ago, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to pass the Fair Housing Act. It's a law that says landlords can't turn away tenants solely because of their race, religion, sex, national origin, or disability. And it made a difference in this country.

Still, the work of the Fair Housing Act remains unfinished. Just a few weeks ago, the Supreme Court ruled that policies segregating minorities in poor neighborhoods, even unintentionally, are against the law. The Court recognized what many people know to be true from their own lives: that too often, where people live determines what opportunities they have in life.

In some cities, kids living just blocks apart lead incredibly different lives. They go to different schools, play in different parks, shop in different stores, walk down different streets. And often, the quality of those schools and the safety of those parks and streets are far from equal, which means those kids aren't getting an equal shot in life.

That runs against the values we hold dear as Americans. In this country, of all countries, a person's Zip Code shouldn't decide their destiny. We don't guarantee equal outcomes, but we do strive to guarantee an equal shot at opportunity, in every neighborhood, for every American.

Now, the Fair Housing Act also says that this isn't the responsibility of a landlord alone; local governments have a role to play too. That's why, this week, my administration announced that we'll make it easier for communities to implement this law. We're using data on housing and neighborhood conditions to help cities identify the areas that need the most help. We're doing more to help communities meet their own goals. Plus, by opening up this data to everybody, everyone in a community—not just elected officials—can weigh in. If you want a bus stop added near your home or more affordable housing nearby, now you'll have the data you need to make your case.

These actions won't make every community perfect. That's something we all have to strive for in our own lives. But they will help make our communities stronger and more vibrant. They'll help keep this a country where kids from every background can grow up knowing that no matter who you are, what you look like, or where you live, you can write your own story.

That's the America I love, and it's the America I'll keep fighting for. Thanks, and have a great weekend.

NOTE: The address was recorded at approximately 4:05 p.m. on July 10 in the Roosevelt Room at the White House for broadcast on July 11. The transcript was made available by the Office of the Press Secretary on July 10, but was embargoed for release until 6 a.m. on July 11.

Barack Obama, The President's Weekly Address Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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