Report Documents Housing Segregation 'Crisis'
Feature Story by civilrights.org staff - 4/6/2005Race, not economics, remains the most significant factor in determining where people live, according to the 2005 Fair Housing Trends Report released on April 5 by the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA).
Concurrent with the release of its report, NFHA filed a discrimination complaint against a Coldwell Banker franchise in Atlanta, Georgia, the first of what the fair housing group said will be several complaints against real estate firms across the nation.
"Coldwell Banker's practices perpetuate the appalling state of our racially segregated nation," said NFHA's President and CEO, Shanna L. Smith. "Real estate agents are better educated about fair housing than anyone in the housing industry. These agents flagrantly violate the law. We have substantial evidence, and we are going to file several complaints with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and if necessary, litigate in federal district courts across the United States."
NFHA's complaint is based on evidence obtained through a two-year real estate testing program. According to NFHA, based on their race alone, black testers posing as home buyers were steered away from white neighborhoods, while white testers were discouraged from seeing or buying homes in integrated and predominantly black neighborhoods.
The 2005 Trends Report recounts a "crisis" of housing segregation in the nation, and a concomitant decline in funding for, and commitment to, fair housing enforcement. The report is based on 2004 housing discrimination complaint data compiled from NFHA member agencies, the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, the U.S. Department of Justice, and state and local government agencies.
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF) has partnered with NFHA and the Ad Council on a Fair Housing National Multimedia Campaign. The campaign, which is funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, is designed to increase public awareness of the Fair Housing Act and its protections, encourage the reporting of fair housing discrimination to the appropriate agencies, and provide information and resources to help communities and institutions support individuals and families who exercise their fair housing rights.
New radio public service announcements released this month through the campaign aim to educate Americans about housing discrimination.
"Housing discrimination is a pervasive problem nationwide. It is also severely under-reported," said Karen McGill Lawson, LCCREF Executive Director. "It is sometimes blatant, sometimes subtle, but always an insidious act that bars home seekers from opportunities to live where they choose because of their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability. We want victims of discrimination to know that there is redress."