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House Adopts Bill Banning Racist Housing Covenants

Overhead view of Virginia House Chamber
The house voted unanimously to adopt Delegate Bagby's legislation, which seeks to address the remnants of racist housing practices. (Photo by Craig Carper/VPM)

Lawmakers in the House unanimously passed a bill that seeks to address racist covenants in property deeds. Though not legally enforceable, some deeds continue to include language that says only white people can own or live on the property.

Delegate Lamont Bagby, who sponsored the bill, said, “There are communities all across the Commonwealth that have this information on their deeds and the goal was to get that removed.”

The bill requires court clerks to reject deeds with this racist language. It would also allow property owners to request new deeds without these covenants. Bagby wanted the removal of these covenants to be automatic, but said he aims to strengthen the bill in next year’s session.

The change was inspired by a group from the Richmond-area that researched the impacts of racial covenants and segregation. The measure now goes to the Senate.

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