One of the reasons behind the enactment of the federal Fair Housing Act (FHA) in 1968 was that minority renters had difficulty finding homes as some advertised properties would not be shown to them. Since that time, HUD and various private groups have continued their efforts to document this practice (known as “slamming”) and attempt to determine if we, as a country, have been making progress at eliminating this form of discrimination or if we need to remain vigilant.
Long term trends related to two important metrics to evaluate discrimination are certainly going in the right direction. HUD’s recent study revealed that denying access to African American and Hispanic home seekers of advertised units has been and continues to decline. That is the good news. HUD did, however, note that Asian renters are more likely than a decade ago to be shown fewer units, but they are less likely to experience adverse treatment.
What I see from my seat is that the professional apartment management community does our best to show available units to all. Does this mean we never make mistakes? Of course not. But I rarely see outright decisions by a leasing consultant or community manager to decline to show a unit because of the race or national origin of an applicant. Where issues arise is that fair housing testers report language differently and/or that units advertised as available on the internet or in the newspaper can be taken off the market if a prospect puts a deposit down. This is yet another reason to ensure the record is fully documented and that applications are date/time stamped.
So, what is the conclusion? Meaningful progress, to be sure. But we must ensure the FHA is followed and that housing opportunities remain available to all.
Just A Thought.