01 Jul WHDH Channel 7: New housing study shows discrimination based on race of Boston’s prospective renters
BOSTON – A study published by Suffolk Univerity and the Boston Foundation has found that people of color are not getting the same housing opportunities as their white counterparts.
“For many of us working on affordable housing issues, this comes as no surprise,” said Soni Gupta, director of neighborhoods and housing at the Boston Foundation. “We’ve known there’s discrimination, but not to the degree the study revealed.”
By using black and white testers pretending to rent apartments, the study found discrimination based on race in 71 percent of the tests.
For example, 93 percent of white testers got a call back from housing providers and only 82 percent of black testers did.
“As we’re saying Black Lives Matter, then inherent in that is black neighbors matter too,” Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal with Lawyers for Civil Rights said.
The study also found housing providers cut off contact with 42 percent of testers if they said they had a voucher for Section 8 housing as opposed to only 10 percent for testers who did not mention vouchers.
Housing experts discussing the study say the results reveal decades of systemic racism.
“We need to have more teeth in terms of penalties for brokers who discriminate, and ability to suspend their licenses so that their livelihoods will be impacted and so the financial incentive will be not to discriminate,” William Berman of Suffolk University Law School said.
The experts say existing laws need to be enforced — such as those dealing with tax credits for housing developers.
“We need to be testing those developers to see if they are complying with the law as they are benefiting from the taxpayers, Stella Adams/National Fair Housing Activist.
Experts say the government’s laws and policies are a big part of the problem.
“When you’re up against a corporate attorney, it is beyond intimidating, and that acts as a barrier that prevents people from filing the complaints that need to be filed.” Barbara Chandler, Senior Advisor on Civil Rights and Fair Housing at Metro Housing said.
Several of the panelists agreed that random discrimination testing in housing should be done all the time.