November 17, 2003
HUD STUDY SHOWS MORE THAN ONE IN FOUR NATIVE AMERICAN RENTERS FACE DISCRIMINATION
WASHINGTON - More than a quarter of Native Americans are discriminated against when attempting to rent homes, according to a study released today by the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
HUD Deputy Secretary Alphonso Jackson released the results of the study to attendees of the 60th annual meeting of the National Congress of American Indians. The conference is being held in Albuquerque, NM, through November 21.
Discrimination in Metropolitan Housing Markets found that Native Americans in the metropolitan areas of New Mexico, Montana and Minnesota consistently receive less favorable treatment than similarly qualified whites when inquiring about the same advertised rental unit. The study showed that Native American renters were discriminated against more than 28 percent of the time. In comparison, African Americans nationally are discriminated against 22 percent of the time, Hispanics, 26 percent and Asians, 21 percent.
"America has come a long way but this discrimination study illustrates that we have more work to do and we must stay focused to end discrimination," Jackson said. "We simply will not allow discrimination to stop families across this nation from living in any home, apartment, neighborhood they can afford."
"Discrimination against Native Americans is especially severe, frequently denying them access to available housing altogether, while other minorities often experience subtler forms of discrimination, such as higher rents and application costs or less advice and assistance from rental agents," said Margery Austin Turner, the study's lead researcher and director of the Urban Institute's Metropolitan Housing and Communities Policy Center.
The study describes an all-too familiar story: the plight of a 43-year old American Indian woman from Billings, Montana who inquired about renting a one-bedroom apartment for herself. She was willing to pay between $250 and $300 per month in rent.
The building manager told her that the advertised unit was no longer available and did not tell her about or show her any alternatives. A few hours later, a 55-year old white woman met with the same building manager, and asked about the same type of apartment. She was told that the advertised unit was still available, and she was able to walk through it that afternoon.
The study, which was based on 297 rental paired-tests conducted in the 8 major metropolitan areas of the 3 states and 100 sales paired-tests in New Mexico, is the first time HUD has measured the extent of housing discrimination against Native Americans.
In 2002, HUD released a report showing that the level of discrimination against African Americans renters had declined since 1989 from 26 percent to 22 percent, while the level of discrimination against Hispanic renters had not changed. The report also showed that levels of discrimination faced by African American homebuyers had declined from 29 percent in 1989 to 17 percent in 2000 while discrimination faced by Hispanic homebuyers declined from 27 to 20 percent.
In 2003, HUD released another report showing the level of discrimination faced by Asians and Pacific Islanders is similar to the level experienced by African Americans and Hispanics.
Conducted by the Urban Institute, the study is the most ambitious effort to date to measure the extent of housing discrimination in the U.S. against persons because of their race or ethnicity.
"In addition to using the research to document the nation's progress in reducing housing discrimination, we also will use the data to better target HUD's education and enforcement resources," said Carolyn Peoples, HUD assistant secretary for fair housing and equal opportunity.
To help combat the problem, since 1989 HUD has awarded grants to public and private fair housing groups as well as to state and local agencies under the Department's Fair Housing Initiatives Program. Organizations use the money to educate the public and housing industry about discrimination laws, promote fair housing, and investigate allegations of housing discrimination. Initially funded at $5 million in 1989, HUD this year is awarding $20.2 million in FHIP grants.
HUD, in partnership with The Advertising Council and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund, recently released an edgy multimedia campaign designed to fight housing discrimination by showing the many faces of those persons protected by the nation's 35-year-old Fair Housing Act.
"These print and broadcast public service announcements are a powerful demonstration that it is not only wrong to discriminate in housing, it is against the law," explained Peoples. "It's unfortunate but 35 years after this important civil rights legislation, we are still educating people that fair housing isn't optional. It is a right."
The Native American study used a technique called "paired testing" to measure the level of housing discrimination. Paired testing matches two individuals, one minority and the other white non-Hispanic, and assigns them otherwise nearly identical characteristics. Both testers respond to the same advertisement within a short time of one another and independently record their experiences. Analysts then compare those experiences to determine which tester received adverse treatment on different treatment variables. Treatment variables are the various opportunities agents have to behave differently toward the paired testers. For example, each tester asks about the same advertised unit. If the unit is available to one and not the other, that test is recorded as showing adverse treatment toward the tester for whom the unit was not available.
Specifically, the study found that Native American renters in the three states experienced consistent adverse treatment relative to comparable whites in 28.5 percent of tests. The individual levels were 25.7 percent in New Mexico, 33.3 percent in Minnesota, and 28.6 percent in Montana. Systematic discrimination was quite high in the area of being told about unit availability.
Testing for Native American prospective homebuyers was only conducted in New Mexico. Native Americans in New Mexico experienced consistent adverse treatment relative to comparable whites 16.6 percent of the time, with systematic discrimination occurring in the area of steering.
Copies of the report can be downloaded from www.HUDUSER.org as well as ordered on line or by calling (800) HUD-USER.
Anyone who believes they have experienced housing discrimination should call HUD's Housing Discrimination Hotline at (800) 669-9777.
HUD is the nation's housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities, creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans, supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development as well as enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet or espanol.hud.gov.