Housing Discrimination a Persistent Problem for Latinos

By Enrique Lopezlira, Senior Policy Advisor, Economic Policy Project, NCLR

Sold Home For Sale Sign in Front of New House

A new study jointly released this week by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the Urban Institute (UI) shows that Hispanics continue to be discriminated against in the rental housing market, although it is carried out more subtly than in the past. Based on more than 8,000 “tests,” the study found that Latino renters learn about 12.5 percent fewer available properties and are shown 7.5 percent fewer housing units than White renters. This type of discrimination not only increases housing search costs for Latinos, but also restricts their housing opportunities.

Since 1970, HUD has conducted a series of nationwide paired-testing studies every 10 years, in order to monitor trends in ethnic and racial discrimination. The studies consist of pairing a well-qualified White individual with an equally well qualified minority individual (Black, Hispanic or Asian) in 28 metropolitan areas, and having each pair respond to the same housing ads. These tests are designed to identify disparate treatment of minorities in the three important steps of the housing search process: making an appointment, learning about available properties, and inspecting homes or apartments.

Although Latino renters were rarely denied appointments, they were less likely to be told that homes or apartments were available than their White counterparts. Similarly, Latino renters were 13 percent less likely to learn about more available units, and six percent less likely to see other available units. In addition, the study found discrimination increases significantly if the renter’s ethnicity is more readily identifiable.

Family in front of houseThe report found no statistically significant disparate treatment between White and Latino home buyers, which, according to the study, is a reflection of a “longer-term decline in discrimination against Hispanic homebuyers.” However, this result needs further research because it does not reflect our experience. Early results of an NCLR study using similar testing methods showed significant discrimination of Latinos in both the home rental and home buying search process. Furthermore, it is important to point out that these types of studies only focus on the search aspect of home buying, not the entire home buying experience. Studies have shown Hispanics receive discriminatory treatment in other areas of the process, such as home financing and housing quality.

While we’ve made significant progress over the past few decades, discrimination continues to prevent Latinos from finding their best housing options.  And limiting their housing options plays a significant role in every other aspect of their lives, from the schools that their children are able to attend to the feasible job opportunities that they can pursue to the safety and security that their communities offer. That is why NCLR continues to work with its Affiliates and partner organizations to ensure that Latinos receive fair and equal treatment when buying a home. Everybody deserves a good home, and that starts with a good home buying or renting experience. It’s past time to end discrimination in the housing market once and for all.

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