African-Americans participating in a study conducted by the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center beginning in May 1999 were discriminated against fifteen out of rental housing in Selma. The Fair Housing Center sent trained volunteers, or "testers", to several apartment complexes in the city. The Centers investigation is ongoing.
Thirty-five years after the historic Selma to Montgomery march, African-American residents of Selma face pervasive discrimination in housing in the very city where civil rights history was made.
African-Americans participating in a study conducted by the Central Alabama Fair Housing Center beginning in May 1999 were discriminated against fifteen out of eighteen times when seeking rental housing in Selma. The Fair Housing Center sent trained volunteers, or "testers", to several apartment complexes in the city. The Centers investigation is ongoing.
In eleven out of eighteen cases, rental agents falsely told African-Americans that no apartments were available or that none would become available for some time, while whites seeking apartments in the same complexes were told about current or upcoming vacancies. In one case, an African-American was quoted a deposit amount which was $200 higher than that quoted his white counterpart. In another incident, a rental agent told an African-American that rental applicants must earn a minimum monthly income amount, while she offered an apartment to a white person earning less than that amount. In two cases, African-Americans were told that they needed to pay a fee to have their names placed on waiting lists, while whites were immediately offered apartments. Also in two cases, agents did not allow African-Americans to enter rental offices. And in one case, an agent wrote the words "race: black" on the bottom of a rental application form.
"We should recognize and celebrate the remarkable progress achieved because of the courage of those who crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge thirty-five years ago," said Faith Cooper, Executive Director of the Center. "As the eyes of the nation are once again focused on Selma this weekend, we must all, in the spirit of the marchers, re-dedicate ourselves to achieving Dr. Kings dream of eradicating all forms of discrimination." The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968 and amended in 1988, prohibits discrimination in housing based on race, color, national origin, religion, gender, familial status, and disability. The Central Alabama Fair Housing Center is dedicated to eliminating housing discrimination in a thirty-county region of central Alabama, including Selma. The Center monitors compliance with the Fair Housing Act, assists residents who encounter discrimination in housing, and conducts public education programs to promote awareness of fair housing rights.