New Study Reveals Landlords Consistently Discriminate Against Potential Renters With Black or Hispanic ‘Sounding’ Names

In the largest study of its kind ever conducted, researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research have uncovered what many people of color already know when hunting for an apartment or home: most landlords consistently discriminate or harbor bias against non-white individuals looking to rent their property. 

Bloomberg’s Kelsey Butler reported that “across the U.S., landlords are less likely to respond to applicants with African American and Latino-sounding names when renting properties, a practice that contributes to rising residential segregation.” 

According to Butler, “researchers created fictitious renters with names more often associated with white, African American or Hispanic identities. They then tracked more than 25,000 interactions between those people and 8,476 property managers in 50 of the largest U.S. cities. Renters with white-sounding names received a 60% response rate, compared to a 54% and 57% response rate for those with African American and Hispanic identities.”

As a result of the findings, researchers with the National Bureau of Economic Research concluded in their report that “African American and Hispanic/Latinx renters continue to face discriminatory constraints in the majority of U.S. cities.” The group added that this type of housing discrimination “can have a critical impact on residential location choices and access to opportunity.”

Experts say this bias against people of color often leads to segregated neighborhoods, even in cities perceived as diverse. It also carries over into the home-buying market, with properties in Black and Latinx communities regularly being undervalued by appraisers and widening an already dire racial wealth gap.

“In [the Bureau’s] analysis, the researchers found that a lack of a response to a renter of color decreased the likelihood that someone of that same ethnic group would live in a property by as much as 17%,” Butler said. 

Among the cities studied by the group, the most frequent discrimination against Black renters occurred in Chicago, Los Angeles and Louisville, Kentucky. For Latinx individuals, discrimination against renters was most prevalent in Louisville, Kentucky, Houston and Providence, Rhode Island.


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