Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Newsday’s 3-year investigation shows an example of why the US is considered racist

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Ann Choi, Keith Herbert, Olivia Winslow, and project editor Arthur Browne report in Newsday:

In one of the most concentrated investigations of discrimination by real estate agents in the half century since enactment of America’s landmark fair housing law, Newsday found evidence of widespread separate and unequal treatment of minority potential homebuyers and minority communities on Long Island.

The three-year probe strongly indicates that house hunting in one of the nation’s most segregated suburbs poses substantial risks of discrimination, with black buyers chancing disadvantages almost half the time they enlist brokers.

Additionally, the investigation reveals that Long Island’s dominant residential brokering firms help solidify racial separations. They frequently directed white customers toward areas with the highest white representations and minority buyers to more integrated neighborhoods.

They also avoided business in communities with overwhelmingly minority populations.

The findings are the product of a paired-testing effort comparable on a local scale to once-a-decade testing performed by the federal government in measuring the extent of racial discrimination in housing nationwide.

Regularly endorsed by federal and state courts, paired testing is recognized as the sole viable method for detecting violations of fair housing laws by agents.

Two undercover testers – for example, one black and one white – separately solicit an agent’s assistance in buying houses. They present similar financial profiles and request identical terms for houses in the same areas. The agent’s actions are then reviewed for evidence that the agent provided disparate service.

Newsday conducted 86 matching tests in areas stretching from the New York City line to the Hamptons and from Long Island Sound to the South Shore. Thirty-nine of the tests paired black and white testers, 31 matched Hispanic and white testers and 16 linked Asian and white testers.

Newsday confirmed that agents had houses to sell when meeting with testers based on analyses provided by Zillow, the online home search site. Zillow draws an inventory of available homes daily from the Multiple Listing Service of Long Island, the computerized system used by agents to select possible houses for buyers. MLSLI said that it does not maintain its own database of past daily inventories, as Zillow does, and so could not provide the same type of tallies. As permitted by law, all tests were recorded on hidden cameras to ensure accuracy in describing interactions between agents and customers.

Newsday relied on two nationally recognized experts in fair housing standards to evaluate the agents’ actions. The consultants were:

  • Fred Freiberg, who co-founded the Fair Housing Justice Center in 2004. Previously, he had led a national testing program for the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice, as well as two national paired testing programs for the Urban Institute. He has coordinated more than 12,000 fair housing tests. He was paid to help organize the testing and train the testers but was not paid to evaluate test results.
  • Robert Schwemm, the Everett H. Metcalf Jr. Professor of Law at the University of Kentucky College of Law. Schwemm is the author of “Housing Discrimination: Law and Litigation,” widely accepted as the definitive treatise of the subject. Schwemm assisted on an unpaid basis.

Newsday separately gave Freiberg and Schwemm summaries of tests that preliminarily appeared to show evidence of unequal treatment; transcripts of relevant remarks made by agents; and maps of the listings suggested to testers, along with the average percentage of white population in the census tracts where the listings fell.

An agent’s actions were deemed worthy of citing only after both consultants independently saw evidence of fair housing violations in response to the information provided by Newsday. While their opinions do not represent legal findings, their matching independent judgments provided a measure of apparent disparate treatment by the tested agents.

In fully 40 percent of the tests,  . . .

Continue reading. There’s much more, plus dropdowns that I skipped and interactive graphics that must be viewed on the website.

Written by LeisureGuy

18 November 2019 at 2:57 pm

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