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New legislation would address old race-based restrictive covenants

Restrictive covenants were made illegal nationwide by the U.S. Fair Housing Act in 1968, “but they still exist in the chain of title," Sen. Wintrow said.

BOISE, Idaho — This story originally appeared in the Idaho Press.

Restrictive covenants still exist in Idaho home deeds saying that only people “of the white race” may own or live in the home, and that the only non-whites allowed are servants, Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, told the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon. Such restrictive covenants were made illegal nationwide by the U.S. Fair Housing Act in 1968, “but they still exist in the chain of title,” Wintrow said. “When you record something, you can’t un-record it. The recording stays.”

But she proposed legislation today that would allow Idahoans to add a “piece of paper noting it’s illegal” into the official record, so subsequent buyers wouldn’t have questions about the covenants.

Wintrow said the issue was brought to her by a constituent in her district in North Boise who found a racial covenant on their home deed. She said she’s been working on the proposal for a year and a half, and has worked with stakeholders including title experts, Realtors, college professors, “attorneys, you name it,” she said. 

RELATED: A clause with racist language in some Boise homeowners' paperwork

Sen. Grant Burgoyne, D-Boise, said, “Just a comment, my own home, the original deed, I think it’s from the 1930s or something, when the property or farm was divided, has that provision in it. It’s right here in the city of Boise. … I’m sure if my property has that provision, there are many, probably thousands … all around the state that have these kind of provisions.”

Wintrow said, “Almost every person I’ve shared this with, their eyes get big as dinner plates and they say, ‘Oh, I didn’t realize that language still existed.’ … I don’t know if there are thousands,” she said. “We’re going to find out how many.”

This article originally appeared in Idaho Press. Read more at IdahoPress.com

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