Fair Housing vs. Unfair Housing

Do you know the difference?

Knowing the difference between fair housing and unfair housing isn't as obvious as you might think. This blog aims to present a variety of important and interesting fair housing issues.

If you're an apartment professional, avoid costly mistakes by reading the stories of others who — even with good intentions — learned compliance lessons the hard way. (For the easy way, click here.)

If you live in an apartment, get familiar with your rights when it comes to housing discrimination, as well as your options for seeking justice.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Have Race Relations Improved Under President Obama?

Tomorrow, President Obama will have been in office for just 100 days. In this short time, has his presidency succeeded in changing the public's perception of race relations in the United States?

According to a New York Times / CBS News poll, the answer is yes. Two-thirds of Americans now say race relations are generally good, with the percentage of blacks believing so having doubled since last July. Many of those polled point to examples in their own towns of people acting friendlier and more respectfully to people of other races.

The poll was conducted nationwide by telephone this past Wednesday through Sunday, reaching 973 adults. Click here for the full results.

Have race relations improved since Mr. Obama became president? If so, how much credit does he deserve?

What do you think?

Monday, April 27, 2009

Access the Full Text of the Fair Housing Act and Its Regulations

You've probably read much news and commentary on housing discrimination, both on this blog and elsewhere. Sometimes, it's enlightening to check out the law itself.

Here are two useful resources, courtesy of Fairhousinghelper.com:

  • Fair Housing Act. Just click on a section heading to open the full text of the Fair Housing Act (FHA) in a new window. The section you requested will begin at the top of your screen. You can then navigate through the entire FHA and print a copy, if you wish.

  • Fair housing regulations. Click to view and/or print the relevant sections of Title 24 ("Housing and Urban Development") of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR).

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Another Study Shows Voice Profiling's Prevalence

In October, I wrote about the results of a survey conducted by a fair housing advocacy agency in Marin County, California, which showed that black testers (posing as prospects) were often treated less favorably than white testers under similar circumstances.

On Tuesday, The Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia (FHCSP) released a report, entitled "FHCSP Testing Audit: Housing Discrimination Trends in the Philadelphia Region," which includes an analysis of its own Voice Profiling Project, in which black and white testers posing as prospects contacted landlords and realtors in the Philadelphia area between 2006 and 2008.

The results show that voice profiling occurred at least 54% of the time, with some black testers being asked to pay higher security deposits and application fees, not being told about certain vacancies, and not being told about any apartment discounts. In 23% of the tests, black testers received inferior service, such as not getting their calls returned or being given the opportunity to learn more about available apartments.

Do you think these surveys imply that voice profiling is prevalent across the United States, or is it limited to certain communities? Can you ever guess someone's race based only on the person's voice over the phone? Can most landlords?

What do you think?

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Update: Sexual Orientation Still Not Protected in North Dakota

In an earlier January post, I wrote that two states were considering amendments to their anti-discrimination laws to protect people based on sexual orientation.

One of those states, North Dakota, just defeated the bill in its House of Representatives by a vote of 54-34. A representative who voted against the bill defended his actions by stating that being gay or lesbian is a "lifestyle choice," and not something you are born with, the Associated Press reported. By contrast, proponents of the bill point to the defeat as being in stark contrast with the recent display of teamwork that fought the rising river level in Fargo.

Should people be protected against housing discrimination based on their sexual orientation? Is sexual orientation something you are born with or is it a lifestyle choice? Should it matter?

What do you think?