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.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

HUD Asks Chicago, New York, and San Francisco for LGBT Testing Ideas

When an agency wants to send fair housing testers to a property, it's usually easy to pick suitable people to fill the role. For instance, to test for racial discrimination, agencies send white and minority testers and then compare their notes. If it's disability discrimination at issue, testers with and without a noticeable disability are dispatched to check for bias.

But what about finding appropriate people to test for discrimination based on sexual orientation? Because sexual orientation isn't one of the Fair Housing Act (FHA)'s protected classes, testing for this type of discrimination hasn't been performed by a federal agency, and no organization to date has attempted to test for sexual orientation discrimination in housing on a national scale.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) wants to change that, having recently announced plans to collect data on the state of sexual orientation discrimination across the United States. According to a report from BusinessWeek, HUD will first seek input from people living in Chicago, New York, and San Francisco — three cities that currently ban discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity — to help determine who would make good testers, what they should say, and how they should act to get landlords to express their bias, if any exists.

What's your advice to HUD? How can testers for sexual orientation discrimination be most effective? Also, do you think such a housing study is long overdue, or is it an unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer money?

What do you think?

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