New HUD study shows minorities continue to be shown fewer homes, apartments

A new HUD audit study shows that compared to whites, minorities are given less access to homes and apartments:

Compared with white homebuyers, blacks who inquire about homes listed for sale are made aware of about 17 percent fewer homes and are shown 18 percent fewer ones. Asians are told about 15 percent fewer units and are shown 19 percent fewer properties. Researchers are unsure why Hispanic buyers were treated more equitably than other minority populations.

Among renters, all minority groups found out about fewer choices than did white consumers. Hispanic testers who contacted agents about advertised rental units learned about 12 percent fewer units available and were shown 7 percent fewer than white renters saw. Black renters learned about 11 percent fewer units and saw 4 percent fewer available rentals, while Asians were told about 10 percent fewer available rentals and shown 7 percent fewer units.

In the Chicago area, researchers found that African-American and white renters got equal access to information and showings of apartments, but African-Americans were less likely than white consumers to see at least one home that had no problems.

Blacks also were more likely than whites to be told that a credit check had to be performed and that particular rental units carried fees. They also were quoted higher fees than the ones quoted to white testers. On average, the extra fees quoted to blacks put the first-year cost of securing a rental unit at $350 more than the cost for white renters.

Hispanic testers in Chicago reported that they heard comments about their credit standing more often than the white testers, and the extra payments quoted to them were $131 more than white testers’.

As the HUD Secretary notes, these actions are less obvious than the redlining, blockbusting, and restrictive covenants of the early 1900s but they still lead to similar outcomes. This kind of study with pairs having the same qualifications and traits except for their race/ethnicity has been conducted for several decades with similar results: whites consistently have better access to housing options. Limiting access to housing options like this is illegal but happens regularly both in cities and suburbs. And housing and patterns of residential segregation is related to all sorts of other important life chances including job opportunities, schools, community resources and services, and social networks.

This article fails to mention what can be done about such discriminatory practices. Housing providers and those in real estate can be sued. However, this takes place on a case by case basis and thus it can take a while to crack down on a large number of offenders.

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