May 23, 2012

Housing Discrimination Alive and Well in the 21st Century

Some people are in denial that in this day and age, discrimination simply does not exist anymore. Taking things at face value, one can see how an individual may be lulled into a false sense of security – legislation designed to protect minorities, affirmative action, et cetera, exist for the advancement of colored peoples in this nation.

However, according to a recent study by the Consumer Action group, all is not fair in home and housing. Consumer Action contacted 5,000 community organizations across the country, compiling information from 549 respondents, who reported “serious issues with housing discrimination.” The survey shows that immigrants, the disabled, and families with children aren’t welcome in some places, and that “immigrants face the greatest hardships in finding legal recourse for housing discrimination.”

One reason, Consumer Action claims, may be cultural barriers. Non-English-speaking minorities could be left out in the cold by unfair housing practices. The study found that “seven out of 10 Community-based organizations (CBOs) say that housing discrimination is a “very serious” or “somewhat serious” problem for the people they serve,” and that “roughly half of CBOs (48 percent) agree that housing discrimination is a “very serious” problem today.”

The study also found that “among the most common barriers to filing discrimination complaints, as reported by CBOs, are factors that specifically concern immigrants, including: “cultural issues, such as the fear of authorities” (59 percent); “language barriers” (54 percent); and “legal status in the U.S.” (56 percent).

Other protected classes, disability (77 percent), race (62 percent) and family status (60 percent) are the top three distinguishing features of individuals seeking help with housing discrimination problems from CBOs.

To make matters worse, Ken McEldowney, Executive Director of Consumer Action, said in a press conference that “two-thirds of the responding community organizations reported people were generally unaware of their rights, affecting their standard of living regardless of what housing they can afford.”

Consumer Action found a pattern across the nation, showing that housing discrimination often bars immigrants, people with disabilities and families with children from living in safer, higher-income neighborhoods they could afford, forcing them instead to move into high-crime areas.

Although our country has made great strides in the effort to provide fair housing for all, it appears that for many of our immigrant communities, fair housing remains unattainable.

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