Housing Discrimination against Racial and Ethnic Minorities: Findings from the HDS 2012 Report

Presentation by Rob Pitingolo
March 20, 2014

Urban Institute   (NNIP Coordinator)

Author(s): Margery Turner, Urban Institute; Rob Santos, Urban Institute; Diane Levy, Urban Institute; Doug Wissoker, Urban Institute; Robert Pitingolo, Urban Institute; Claudia Aranda, Urban Institute

The Department of Housing and Urban Development, in partnership with the Urban Institute, recently released results from the Housing Discrimination Study 2012 (HDS): Housing Discrimination Against Racial and Ethnic Minorities. The study’s findings confirm a hard truth: that America’s long journey to end housing discrimination remains unfinished. Real estate agents and rental housing providers recommend and show fewer available homes and apartments to minorities than equally qualified whites. While much discrimination research in the past has focused on African Americans and Hispanic Americans, the findings from this study shed light on the discrimination experienced by Asians.  Although the most blatant forms of housing discrimination have declined since the first national paired-testing study in 1977, the forms that persist raise the costs of housing search for minorities and restrict their housing options. The 2012 study finds that minorities are often told about and shown fewer units than comparably qualified whites. While certainly real, these forms of subtle discrimination are virtually impossible to detect without the use of pair-testing methodologies, leaving homeseekers potentially unaware of the unequal treatment that they receive from housing agents.  For the first time in a national study, the Urban Institute conducted an analysis of testers’ racial or ethnic identifiability. The study finds that minority testers whose race and ethnicity are more readily identifiable are more likely to be discriminated against than minority testers who might be mistaken as being.