News Column

Hispanics Still Face Discrimination in Home Buying, Study Finds

June 11, 2013
Couple looking for a home

Hispanic homebuyers have made strides in their access to housing but Asian- and African-American buyers looking to purchase a home still are told about or shown far fewer homes than equally qualified white consumers, a new national study has determined.

However, Hispanic renters face the same challenges as other minority groups in finding apartments, according to the report issued Tuesday by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Urban Institute.

The $9 million study, based on research in 28 metropolitan areas, including the Chicago area, concluded that blatant forms of discrimination are on the decline but that the discrimination that does exist is harder to detect, and as a result, correct.

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 units. Asians are told about 15 percent fewer units and are shown 19 percent fewer properties. Researchers are unsure why Hispanic buyers were treated better than other minority groups.

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

"Just because it's taken on a hidden form doesn't make it any less harmful," said HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan on a call with reporters. "You might not be able to move into that community with the good schools."

To conduct the study, which involved 8,000 pairs of testers, two people, one white and the other an African-American, Hispanic or Asian but sharing the same gender, age, family composition and given the same financial background, contacted a housing provider to ask about a randomly selected home available for sale or rent. The testers recorded the treatment they received.

Because the paired testing only included well-qualified, similar applicants, the findings "probably understate the total level of discrimination that occurs in the marketplace," said Margery Turner, a senior vice president at Urban Institute.

Turner and Donovan called for increased use of testing to ferret out housing discrimination. In March, HUD unveiled an iPhone-iPad app to make consumers aware of their fair housing rights and make it easier for them to file complaints.

The first study using a paired-testing approach was undertaken by HUD in 1977. Tuesday's report is the fourth such study of housing discrimination.



Source: (c)2013 the Chicago Tribune Distributed by MCT Information Services


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