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The Seattle Open Housing Campaign, 1959-1968 - Home
Restrictive Covenants
O'Meara v. Washington State Board Against Discrimination
State Fair Housing Legislation
The NAACP Request
The Citizens' Advisory Committee on Minority Housing
Protest: Sit-in and Freedom March, 1963
"An Open Hearing for Closed Minds"
The People Vote
Years of Ferment: 1964-1967
Open Housing, 1968
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The Seattle Open Housing Campaign, 1959-1968

The People Vote

Opponents of the legislation, who called it "Forced Housing legislation," included the Seattle Real Estate Board, Apartment Owners' Association, and many private home owners. Harold W. Cooper, president of the Seattle Real Estate Board, said the proposed open-housing law would put sweeping controls on the "thoughts and actions of individual citizens." Those in favor of the legislation included religious coalitions and civil rights and community organizations.

Seattle was not alone in this struggle. In 1964 the New York Times reported that fair housing initiatives were underway in Michigan, Illinois, and California, as well as Washington. Real estate interests were the primary opponents of the measures in each of these states.

No vote 1 Yes vote No vote 2

Those opposing the open housing legislation advertised heavily, with slogans referencing personal freedom and forced housing. The advertisements urged voters to examine human rights and property rights and to vote "no" in order not to lose family freedom. The names of City Council members Paul Alexander, Floyd Miller, Mike Mitchell and Myrtle Edwards appeared in some of the newspaper ads in opposition to the ordinance.

Flyer for Westlake Rally

Proponents of the open housing legislation sponsored marches, rallies, and educational meetings. A rally two days before the vote was held at Westlake Plaza with over 1,500 attending. Those endorsing the ordinance at the rally included the Council of Planning Affiliates, representing health and welfare agencies; Puget Sound Cooperative League, made up of Group Health cooperatives; King County Schools, and many church and community groups.

Westlake Rally, March 7, 1964

The open housing legislation went before the voters on March 10, 1964 and was defeated by more than a two-to-one margin - 115,627 opposed to 54,448 in favor.

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