Real estate agents and rental housing providers recommend and show fewer available homes and apartments to minority families, according to a study released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Urban Institute.
The report, ‘Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012,’ finds that although blatant acts of housing discrimination faced by minorities have been on the decline, more subtle varieties of discrimination continue to persist.Â
‘Fewer minorities today may be getting the door slammed in their faces, but we continue to see evidence of housing discrimination that can limit a family's housing, economic and educational opportunities,’ said Shaun Donovan, secretary of HUD, in a statement.
Detecting discrimination, however, can be difficult. Therefore ‘HUD and local fair housing organizations need to conduct proactive testing, especially in the sales market, where discrimination appears higher than in the rental market,’ said Margery Turner of the Urban Institute.
To conduct the study, the Urban Institute used a ‘paired testing’ methodology in which researchers compared the treatment of white and minority home seekers in 28 metropolitan areas. The two testers in each pair were matched on gender, age and family composition. In addition, they were assigned the same financial characteristics. The testers then reported how easy it was for them to make an appointment, how many units or homes they were shown, and the agent's willingness to show units.
The study reveals that minority renters and home buyers are told about and shown fewer homes and apartments. Black renters who contact agents about recently advertised units learn about 11% fewer available units and are shown roughly 4% fewer units. Black homebuyers who contact agents about recently advertised homes learn about 17% fewer available homes and are shown about 18% fewer units.
Similarly, Asian renters who contact agents about recently advertised housing units learn about 10% fewer available units and are shown nearly 7% fewer units. In addition, Asian home buyers learn about 15% fewer available homes and are shown nearly 19% fewer units.
Hispanic renters who contact agents about recently advertised housing units learn about 12% fewer available units and are shown roughly 7% fewer units.
However, the difference in treatment for Hispanic home buyers is not statistically significant, the study finds.