New report finds housing discrimination in D.C. based on race

HOUSING/RACE | According to a new analysis released by the Equal Rights Center, housing applicants in D.C. face discrimination based on race, even when black and white residents have similar criminal records. The report shows how criminal records screening policies are used as proxies for racial discrimination. (City Paper, 10/18)

Over the summer, ERC performed 60 phone and in-person tests, with 45 in the District and 15 in Northern Virginia, to determine whether area housing providers treat potential tenants differently because of their race. The study controlled for sex by requiring that all testers were women—a group that has seen an accelerated incarceration rate in recent years… In essence, one white woman and one black woman of similar age tested a given landlord (or their agent) as a pair in searching for a studio or one-bedroom apartment. The women disclosed that they had either a “college-age felony arrest for drug possession from at least seven years ago” or a “larceny conviction from at least 11 years ago that was related to a long-term abusive relationship”—neither considered “directly related to a tester’s ability to be a good tenant” or indicative that they would risk tenants’ safety.

The study found that nearly half (47 percent) of the tests showed that landlords favored the white female potential tenant. Additionally, 28 percent of the tests “revealed a criminal records screening policy in place that may have an illegal disparate impact on the basis of race” under the federal Fair Housing Act.

The full report, “Unlocking Discrimination,” can be found here.

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‘It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown  is considered to be the best of the ‘Peanuts’ – and I’ll be watching tonight, as always, with my kids – Buffy