Larry Pearl


The Real History of Fair Housing

Ep. 22 - Larry Pearl offers a first-hand account of how HUD battled discrimination, was forced to adapt to evolving political views, and at times struggled to achieve its mission.

Top Takeaways:

    • Practicing civil rights and fighting for equal opportunity housing
    • The rampant discrimination in the affordable housing sector that HUD fought against for so long
    • The fight against segregation with local housing agencies
    • A different way to get a job

Listen for the best first-hand account of the fight for fair housing from an insider's point of view.

"Trying to prove the intent to discriminate is very difficult."

Larry has been a champion for fair housing, spent nearly 40 years inside the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Washington D.C.  He offers a detailed retelling of his journey growing up in an all-white neighborhood in Philadelphia and later attending a more diverse college and connecting with friends' and colleagues' experiences of daily prejudices. His experiences attuned him to deep levels of discrimination in housing and how to be an ally in the long road to equality.

As a strong advocate for fair housing and equal opportunity, he has published guidebooks and has trained over 2000 HUD staff, state and local government staff and civil rights groups.

While at HUD, Larry developed and implemented settlements of complex civil rights litigation involving alleged discrimination by HUD and public housing agencies. He also developed a comprehensive program to implement the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988, including overseeing drafting of regulations in record time, estimating complaint load, and developing, and securing support for, budget within HUD and OMB. He received SES Meritorious Rank Award based largely on this effort.

Post-retirement from HUD, as a Civil Rights Consultant, he assists law firms requiring legal analysis of fair housing matters including the preparation of legal memoranda, rating and ranking grant applications, and editing handbooks.


Listen to his story of where progress has been made, what it took to fight those battles, and what lies ahead.

Key Moments:

He gives a history of why he went into civil rights due to his passion for integration [2:45]

The mistake he made of applying in personnel at the then HHFA but was still hired and got interested in fair housing [7:04]

The challenges they faced establishing the new office for equal opportunity housing [18:21]

He explains a lack of sympathy for civil rights by public housing and rampant discrimination against black people [22:28]

He describes the strengthening of laws in the 1980s through amendments as his career-high [26:21]

How HUD tried to implement fair housing in 1998 to no avail which is also the year he retired  [28:28]

He explains the role the court played in eliminating discrimination in the housing sector [29:17]

How he got his unique break into HHFA by bagging an interview with the general counsel [32:25]

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