Tests show more is needed to promote fair housing

January 30, 2011
At Westchester Residential Opportunities we work to eradicate housing discrimination by educating, investigating and enforcing the federal, state and local fair-housing laws. These laws were enacted to give all Americans — and certainly all residents of the Lower Hudson Valley — equal access to shelter and equal opportunity to choose where to live.
     Is there housing discrimination in the Lower Hudson Valley? In 2008, we received a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to determine the extent, if any, of discrimination in our communities. We sought to answer this question by conducting fair-housing testing over an 18-month period.
     Testing is a U.S. Supreme Court-accepted method of uncovering housing discrimination. We conducted paired testing, in which we sent a pair of individuals, a "control tester" and a "protected tester," with similar financial backgrounds and housing goals to the same site at slightly different times in a simulated housing transaction. Our protected testers were black or Hispanic and our control testers were white. We compared their verbal and written reports of their experiences to determine whether or not they were treated equally.