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I know I shouldn’t say this, but…

Posted on 02. Mar, 2012 by

Watch the videoThroughout October 2011, GNOFHAC partnered with local news affiliate WDSU to conduct testing or mystery shopping of private landlords and apartment complexes in the Mandeville and Covington areas.  If you missed WDSU’s feature on apartment mystery shopping, you can check it out online:  Our testing revealed that African Americans experienced a difference in treatment based upon their race 64 percent of the time when apartment shopping.  This difference in treatment is discriminatory conduct and is illegal under the federal Fair Housing Act.

As reported in the WDSU story, 7 out of 11 times African Americans faced discrimination when apartment shopping on the Northshore.  This rate of discrimination is higher than what we discovered in our 2007 audit when African American testers were discriminated against 57.5% of the time.

Just imagine while apartment shopping that for every two apartments you view, a landlord presents obstacles to you renting, charges you more money for a deposit, or lies and says the apartment isn’t available- all because of your race. Consider the compounding affects this type of discrimination has and how much longer and harder the moving process becomes with the addition of discriminatory behavior.

The WDSU story highlighted a few scenarios that our testers encountered during the course of the October testing but there were several other blatant violations not shown in the footage.  For example, a white mystery shopper called an apartment complex to scheduled a visit on a Saturday. The agent initially said no because the office is not open on Saturdays, but called back just a few moments later to say they would open the office that weekend expressly so the white mystery shopper could view the apartment.  At the same complex, on the same weekend, an African American mystery shopper was told the office was never open on the weekends and was not invited to the complex. Another landlord, who only minutes before had set an apartment viewing with our white shopper, told the African American mystery shopper that the apartment had already been rented.  This same landlord expressed her desire for the white mystery shopper to rent the apartment because she preferred not to rent to an Asian family that had recently looked at the property.

It seems many landlords know they are committing an illegal act when they discriminate.  The landlord refusing to rent to the Asian family preceded her comments with,  “I know I shouldn’t say this, but….”, which is a phrase often heard before someone discriminates. As our Executive Director, James Perry, stated in his interview with WDSU, we know people understand it’s wrong to discriminate and we must now work to get them to change their behaviors and comply with the Fair Housing Act.

As Dr. King noted, “Let us be dissatisfied until integration is not seen as a problem but as an opportunity to participate in the beauty of diversity.” 

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