Sunday, December 18, 2016

Connecticut City Green-Lights Program To Unleash Fair Housing Testers In Hunt For Discriminating Landlords, Real Estate Agents

In Norwalk, Connecticut, The Hour reports:
  • The Connecticut Fair Housing Center will send anonymous “testers” into Norwalk landlord and property management offices next year in search of potential discrimination toward renters.

    [T]he Norwalk Fair Housing Advisory Commission authorized Norwalk Fair Housing Officer Margaret K. Suib to sign a contract with the Fair Housing Center to perform the testing. The cost of the program will be $10,000.

    Suib, an attorney, said the Fair Housing Center will hire local people, prepare biographies for them, train them as “testers” and send them to real estate agents, landlords and property managers in Norwalk to complete 10 paired tests.

    One potential paired test might involve two similarly aged white women with similar backgrounds. However, one woman relies upon a Section 8 voucher and the other doesn’t.

    “Maybe one of you in our scenario would have Section 8 and the other would not. Otherwise, you’re similar. You’re white women, you’re about the same age, you’d be given a little biography basically about your family size, your income,” Suib said. “Everything would be the same except one with Section 8, one without, and you see how a Realtor’s office or a landlord or property manager treats you. Are you treated the same?”
    Suib asked for $93,550 in the city’s current budget to launch a housing discrimination testing program, where individuals would be trained to approach landlords and real estate agents in search of housing opportunities in an effort to weed out discrimination. She was granted $10,000 in the budget. As such, the forthcoming testing program will be limited, she said.