Housing News

Here's One Interesting Discovery

A law implemented long ago, doesn’t have an impact online.

There’s a new president at the White House but that doesn’t mean America has already embraced the change in discrimination. In the property sector, the Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians, pregnant women, and people securing custody of children under the age of 18), and handicap (disability).

It may just sound too good to be true. Elizabeth Razzi of the Washington Times decided to check on Craiglist.com ads and found some discriminating posts. In her interview with Shanna Smith, president and chief executive officer of the National Fair Housing Alliance reacts to an ad that states a one-bedroom apartment is situated in a quiet neighborhood, “”If you’re a family with kids, well, kids aren’t quiet. An ad like that would not… could cause (the NFHA) to have trained testers investigate to see if they were treated differently because of race, color, sex, handicap, familial status or national origin—the classifications protected under federal fair housing laws.”

We decided to check the site by ourselves and there may be no blatant posts in New York and New Jersey (one metro contains hundreds of listings), the forum section tells a different story. Complaints about landlords turning their backs to potential renters who do not fit in their desired race, religion or physical capacity are quite a lot. In 2003, the Urban Institute published the National Housing Discrimination Study (HDS2000), sponsored by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It found out that “significant discrimination against African American and Hispanic homeseekers still persists in both rental and sales markets of large metropolitan areas nationwide, but that its incidence has generally declined since 1989. Only Hispanic renters face no change in the incidence of consistent adverse treatment today than they did in 1989. The discriminatory practices that African Americans and Hispanics face are serious, limiting their information and options and making it more difficult for them to find the housing they need.”

If you’re a victim of such practice, the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity of the Department of Housing and Urban Development has made complaint filing easier. You can visit their website and fill in the complaint form. Only those aggravated can make the Fair Housing Act really effective.

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