Minority families are shown fewer available homes and apartments than equally qualified white families, according to a new national study.
Hispanic renters learn about 12 percent fewer units and are shown about 7 percent fewer available units than whites.
The same is true for African-Americans and Asian-Americans. African-American renters learn about 11 percent fewer units and are shown 4 percent fewer units. Asian-American renters are learn about 10 percent fewer units and are shown nearly 7 percent fewer units.
Similar results were found for homebuyers, with the exception of Hispanic testers. The difference in treatment for Hispanic homebuyers was not statistically significant.
“Unfortunately our findings reveal a sad truth: The long struggle to end housing discrimination remains unfinished,” said Shaun Donovan, secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “Real estate agents and rental housing providers recommend and show fewer available homes to minority families than equally qualified whites.”
Minorities are rarely denied an appointment to see an advertised unit, but more subtle forms of discrimination persist, according to the study by HUD and the Urban Institute.
“I stress that the findings in this study are more than just numbers,” Donovan said. “They represent families being denied their fair shot at the American dream.”
Families that are denied access to all housing options in the marketplace may not be able to move to a neighborhood with a good school or may not be able relocate to a community where there are more job opportunities, he said.
For the study, the Urban Institute conducted more than 8,000 tests in 28 metropolitan markets. In each test, there were two equally qualified candidates who would answer ads about homes for sale or rent. One individual was white, and the other was a minority. Participants then documented their experiences.
The problem was seen across metropolitan areas, making it a national issue and not a regional phenomenon, said Margery Austin Turner, senior vice president at the Urban Institute.
The $9 million study is the fourth in a series of national studies sponsored by HUD since 1979. Donovan said that investment, which happens roughly once a decade, is critical to understanding if progress is being made.
He added that HUD will continue to enforce the Fair Housing Act and other laws. The agency recently unveiled the first housing discrimination app for the iPhone and iPad, allowing users to quickly learn about their housing rights and pursue discrimination complaints.
He added that the agency will continue to ensure that those receiving HUD funding comply with their obligations to promote equal access to housing. Donovan said the agency is also working with local organizations to further housing opportunities, including educating communities about how to build more integrated housing, which can help ensure a wider range of housing choices.