WASHINGTON, June 11, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A study on housing discrimination released today by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) demonstrates the persistence of bias against Latinos, Asians and African Americans, but the methodology used may understate the level of discrimination, according to the Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC).
"This important HUD study clearly shows that housing discrimination is still a serious problem," said Phil Tegeler, president of the PRRAC. "But it may actually be understating the scope of the bias that is limiting housing opportunities for many families of color seeking to move to higher opportunity communities."
The HUD study, which was completed by the Urban Institute, found that real estate agents and rental housing providers recommend and show fewer available homes and apartments to minority families. HUD said that this increases the housing costs and restricts housing options. The study concluded that this is a national phenomenon.
Employing a "paired testing" methodology, researchers compared the treatment of white and minority homeseekers in 28 metropolitan areas. In the 8,000 paired tests, two trained testers with equal personal and financial characteristics (one white and the other black, Hispanic, or Asian), inquired about rental and home ownership possibilities and tracked the treatment as well as the housing opportunities that were presented.
Tegeler said that although a nationally representative sample of 28 metropolitan areas gives a general idea about discrimination patterns, variations within the metropolitan area may mask or undermine the extent of discrimination happening at the local level. "Focusing on the metropolitan level will not reveal if there is a higher level of discrimination against minorities in areas of low poverty and high opportunity in comparison to areas of high poverty and distress," he said.
In fact, the study's executive summary acknowledges that the level of discrimination documented may be understated. "… more locally targeted research testing may be needed to pinpoint the types of neighborhoods, housing providers, or homeseekers where discrimination is most prevalent," the study states. "In particular, minority homeseekers with lower incomes, less wealth, weaker English language fluency, or blemished credit may face higher levels of discrimination than documented in this study."
Tegeler said the study also didn't address the discrimination that minority families may face when trying to use Section 8 vouchers in more exclusionary communities. Tegeler added, "This study really whets our appetite for more targeted testing studies to find out where the most serious discrimination is taking place."
The Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC) is a civil rights policy organization convened by major civil rights, civil liberties, and anti-poverty groups in 1989-90. PRRAC's primary mission is to help connect advocates with social scientists working on race and poverty issues, and to promote a research-based advocacy strategy on structural inequality issues. PRRAC sponsors social science research, provides technical assistance, and convenes advocates and researchers around particular race and poverty issues. You can also follow PRRAC on twitter at https://twitter.com/PRRAC_DC, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Poverty-and-Race-Research-Action-Council/480723658639202 and at www.prrac.org.
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SOURCE Poverty & Race Research Action Council (PRRAC)