Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Study: Battle Creek Real Estate Agents Prefer White Prospective Homebuyers Over Better-Qualified Black Counterparts; Fair Housing Testers Strike Again

In Battle Creek, Michigan, the Battle Creek Enquirer reports:
  • White prospective homeowners received better treatment and service from Battle Creek real estate agents than their black counterparts who were "better-qualified consumers," according to a fair housing investigation conducted last fiscal year.

    The findings, released Thursday [Sept. 29] at a news conference held at Battle Creek City Hall, reported that among 38 tests, white subjects were offered more listings, received better communication and had fewer discussions on pre-approval requirements. That's despite black test subjects being assigned characteristics that would give them an advantage, such as better financial situations.
    While the city has conducted previous fair housing studies, often required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development because of federal funding, it contracted with the Kalamazoo-based Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan for $25,000 to take "a larger-scale approach" after hearing concerns during public engagement efforts over the past couple years.

    The investigations focused on real estate agents and race discrimination, individual landlord investors and race discrimination and companion animal acceptance.

    The tests "are structured in such a way to grant black testers the advantage in an effort to target discriminatory behavior," according to the investigation.

    Agents were more likely to follow up with white testers, and black testers "had to try five times harder to receive correspondence or correct information."
    The investigation also discovered a lack of understanding about laws related to persons with disabilities who have a companion animal. Ten of 28 agents denied housing after disclosure of a disability status, half of which were due to a no-pet policy.

    It found "no clear patterns" related to landlord investors and race discrimination — testers in general received poor treatment and were shown rental units in poor condition. Fourteen advertised but uncertified rental units were discovered during the investigation. They have been reported to the city's code compliance department.

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