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Housing bias still an issue across U.S.
Federal study finds discrimination hasnít ended
 
Published Wednesday, June 26, 2013 11:45 am
by Amanda Raymond

Discrimination lives on in the housing market.

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FMJA.COM
Although housing discrimination has been outlawed since the 1960s, people of color still face bias in renting or buying a home. Black renters were told about 11 percent fewer available units than whites, according to a study by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development released a study conducted by the Urban Institute that showed minorities are still experiencing bias in the housing market. Although discrimination is not as obvious as slamming doors in prospective buyers’ faces or hanging up the phone, minorities are subtly treated differently than their white counterparts.


Real estate agents and rental housing providers recommended and showed fewer available homes and apartments to African American, Hispanic and Asian families during the study period. The practice, researchers contend, puts more expense on minorities and leaves them with limited housing options.


HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said the discrimination can isolate minorities and deter them from economic advancement.


“We continue to see evidence of housing discrimination that can limit a family’s housing, economic and educational opportunities,” Donovan said in a statement. “It’s clear we still have work to do to end housing discrimination once and for all.”


Researchers found housing bias is not limited to a few isolated areas. The $9 million study included 28 metropolitan areas, including Greensboro, Winston-Salem and High Point, and found discrimination is a national issue.


Ledger Morrissette, manager of Fair Housing and Public Accommodations for the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee, said there is discrimination in Charlotte, mostly in apartment complexes.


“We’re sure that there’s probably discrimination going on,” he said. “Some of it is very subtle and you don’t know it’s happening. But we’ve had some cases that have been filed alleging discrimination that we did verify discrimination did occur.”


Researchers for the study used a paired testing methodology where two testers were matched on gender, age and number of family members. They were also given the same financial characteristics.


A major finding was that black renters were told about 11 percent fewer available units than whites and shown 4 percent fewer units. Black homebuyers were told about 17 percent fewer available homes and shown fewer homes by 18 percent.


The study is the fourth done by HUD on housing discrimination every decade or so since 1979.


Morrissette said his committee usually gets 30 to 40 complaints of bias a year. In some cases there is no discrimination found, but when it is, the issue is usually resolved with mediation.


“Most of those cases are conciliated,” he said. “That is, the party doing the discriminating and the person that complained of it reached an agreement to resolve the discrimination.”


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