Undercover tests find housing discrimination against Latinos, blacks, families

Categories: News

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Here's what the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center did: It sent two people -- one white and one Latino -- to the same Denver metro apartment building to inquire about renting a unit. The two people had similar incomes and similar employment and rental histories. The purpose of the experiment was to see whether the people would be treated differently.

The short answer is "yes." According to a report released this week, white would-be renters were treated more favorably than Latinos 91 percent of the time.

That's just one of the conclusions in the report, called "Access Denied" and on view below. The center also conducted tests with African-American would-be renters and families with children. It found that both groups were treated less favorably than white people with no children who inquired at the same apartment buildings.

Federal and state laws prohibit discriminating against housing applicants based on race, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, ancestry and creed, the study says.

"Everyone has the right to seek housing where he or she wishes," Arturo Alvarado, executive director of the Denver Metro Fair Housing Center says in a statement. "But the dramatic results of this investigation show that housing discrimination is a pervasive problem in our community and that our public officials must take action now."

The center's investigation is based on 68 tests -- or 34 pairs of people seeking housing. Eleven of the pairs included one Latino tester and one white tester, twelve pairs included one African-American and one white tester and eleven other pairs included one tester with children and one without. The only significant difference between the testers was their race, national origin or family status. The tests were conducted at 28 different apartment sites. (See the map in the report below for the approximate locations of those sites.)

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The findings include:

  • In ten out of the eleven tests including a Latino tester -- or 91 percent of the time -- the white testers were treated more favorably than the Latino testers.
  • For example, in 54 percent of the tests, the Latino testers received less information about the apartment's features and amenities, such as parking options, neighborhood perks, storage, utilities and available floor plans.
  • In 36 percent of the tests, the Latino testers were told that fewer units were available. For example, one Latino tester was told there were just two units available while the white tester was told there were four units available.
  • Specials, such as move-in discounts, weren't offered as often to Latino testers.
  • In 18 percent of the tests, the white tester was offered an application and the Latino tester was not. More Latino testers were told they'd have to pass a background check.
  • In eight out of twelve tests including an African-American tester -- or 67 percent of the time -- the white testers were treated more favorably than the African-American testers.
  • A quarter of African-American testers were quoted higher rental prices than white testers for the same apartment when they inquired on the same day. For instance, one white tester was offered a price of $920 for a two-bedroom apartment, while the African-American tester was told that the lowest price would be $1,010.
  • In 17 percent of the tests, the white tester was not asked to show ID before being taken on a tour of the unit or complex but the African-American tester was.
  • In eight out of eleven tests involving families with children -- or 73 percent of the time -- renters without children were treated more favorably than those with them.
  • In 18 percent of the tests, testers with children were steered toward first-floor units or units in specific buildings. One agent told a tester without children that she tries to keep all of the families with kids in the back building.
  • Agents were also more likely to offer to hold apartments for testers without children.

The study concludes with several recommendation on how to improve the situation, including a call for public officials to enforce fair housing laws and for the housing industry to better train its employees on those laws.

Read the entire report below.

Access Denied: Report on Rental Housing Discrimination

More from our News archive: "Defense: Edward Montour wrongly convicted of killing baby before prison murder, execution bid."


Follow me on Twitter @MelanieAsmar or e-mail me at melanie.asmar@westword.com


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20 comments
Kathryn Aryana
Kathryn Aryana

Gee thats funny.im 57 white disabled.,live barely enough to get by each month.yet cant get food stamps or housing.i am deeply offended by this.and i am fed with these people blaming us.i cant go to their country and get the same services.we get chained to a bed like a dog.

fishingblues
fishingblues topcommenter

Self-fulfilling prophecy.  One can find anything if that is all they are looking for.

Jazus!  Liberals sure are stupid.  Let's come up with a bogus study that could never be duplicated and therefore has no validity.  Then let's get some liberal nimrod in the press to report it as if it were true.  This is how "liberalism" perpetuates itself.      

Tom Spain
Tom Spain

I found that Denver is basically set up to cater to these "poor minorities". I lived in the blue-collar neighborhoods and found that white people are targeted and discriminated against far more often than minorities. Despite the fact that the "minority" neighborhoods I lived in had much higher crime rates. Just saying.

Hatty Marris
Hatty Marris

story titled "Housing Discrimination" not "Racial Inequality" go bust on someone else please, thx.

Sterling Meeks
Sterling Meeks

Right, because pet ownership should be a protected class on equal footing with ethnic minorities and families with small children.

Lydia Cabrera
Lydia Cabrera

It is what it is. There are different strategies I have used over the years that's helps to ease being profiled by these landlords.

Hatty Marris
Hatty Marris

Don't forget to include people with pit bulls or large breeds

Melissa Green Yanez
Melissa Green Yanez

College educated, working, two parent family, and with two small children....and latino....it's not easy.

Chris Stallings
Chris Stallings

bs all those people have section 8 and fill up housing faster then i can put in a rental application

Andrea Mérida
Andrea Mérida

Little wonder that the only place, pretty much, that you can afford to live in Denver while low income is southwest Denver. This ties in neatly with these findings.

Brett German
Brett German

Ha! you think thats bad, i tried to get General Assistance here on the Navajo Reservation. I gave them my CIB (Certificate of Indian Blood) ,they told me they wanted to do an "ethnic background check". My CIB says i'm 1/2 Navajo.

anonymous
anonymous

glad this is being assessed in Denver

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Interesting post, Tom. We're going to feature it as an upcoming Comment of the Day. Thanks.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Lydia.

HistoryRepeats
HistoryRepeats

Pit-Bulls are the trendy dog to have if you're a psycho.

michael.roberts
michael.roberts moderator editortopcommenter

Hang in there, Melissa -- and thanks for posting.

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