Cybersegregation: Is Neil a More Desirable Tenant than Tyrone or Jorge?

Key Findings

  • The discrimination that was encountered was not the overt, explicit, door slamming type that was common a few decades ago. Though more subtle, it was clear.
  • Initially most of the testers appeared to be treated similarly. Three-quarters of all testers received a response.
  • But as we moved deeper into the search process the disparities grew. Whites were more likely to be told the unit was still available, receive more than one response from the provider, be advised to contact the property owner, and informed of additional units that were available.
  • The most significant measure in our research was whether or not the tester was invited to inspect the advertised property. In the Boston area almost 62 percent of whites were invited to inspect the unit compared to 57.8 percent of Hispanics and 50.9 percent of African Americans. In the Dallas area almost 73 percent of whites were invited to inspect the unit compared to 66.5 percent of Hispanics and 62.7 percent of African Americans.
  • We calculated an overall measure of whether an audit was white, black, or Hispanic favored. In Boston, whites were favored in 14.5 percent of the audits, Hispanics were favored in 8.5 percent, and African Americans were favored in 6.5 percent. In Dallas, whites were favored in 14.9 percent of the audits, Hispanics were favored in 9.2 percent, and African Americans were favored in 6.9 percent.
  • These findings indicate that HUD, state and local fair housing agencies, and non-profit fair housing organizations need to expand their investigative tactics and pay much closer attention to Craigslist and other electronic search tools. Cyberspace is not race neutral.