By Katerina Sokou, Updated: Tuesday, June 11, 2:17 PM
Housing discrimination remains a national phenomenon, according to a government report released Tuesday that found that although blatant acts of racial prejudice in the selling, buying and renting of homes have been declining in the United States, more subtle forms of housing bias “stubbornly persist.”
“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 HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The nationwide survey showed that real estate agents and rental housing providers recommend and show fewer available homes and apartments to minority families, not only restricting their housing options but also increasing their costs to rent or buy.
In particular, African American renters who contact agents about recently advertised housing units are told about 11 percent fewer available units and are shown roughly 4 percent fewer units than white renters. Similarly, Asian renters are told about 10 percent fewer available units and are shown nearly 7 percent fewer units; Hispanic renters learn about 12 percent fewer units and are shown 7 percent fewer units than are whites.
Discrimination is higher in the homebuying market, the report said. In particular, black homebuyers who contact agents about recently advertised homes for sale are informed about 17 percent fewer available homes and are shown about 18 percent fewer units than are white homebuyers. Asian homebuyers are informed about 15 percent fewer available homes and are shown nearly 19 percent fewer units; the difference in treatment between white and Hispanic homebuyers is not statistically significant.
In the Washington area, whites and blacks were equally likely to be told that a unit is available, the report said. Over all, however, white homebuyers are told about 0.41 more units than African Americans are told about (black renters were informed that an average of 1.71 units per visit were available, compared with 2.12 units per visit for white renters). Furthermore, the average rent for any unit is $9 higher for black renters than for white renters, while average fees were also higher by $7 for black compared with charged white renters.
Although the average rent in the Washington area does not significantly differ for whites and blacks, the report said, the average payment due at move-in is $262 less for whites than for blacks. Average yearly incentives are lower by $168 for black renters, while the average first-year net cost is $402 higher for blacks compared to the cost for white renters.
In another sign of bias, a total of 11.6 percent of white renters in the area were told that rent was negotiable, compared with 7.2 percent of black renters.
As housing bias is becoming more subtle, “the forms of discrimination documented by this study are very difficult for victims to detect,” said the Urban Institute’s Margery Turner.
During its Fair Housing Month campaign in April, HUD encouraged anyone who experiences discrimination to call HUD’s housing discrimination hotline (1-800-669-9777), contact a local fair housing agency, or visit HUD’s fair housing Web site: www.HUD.gov/fairhousing.