The Equal Rights Center’s Next Generation Segregation Report Suggests Discrimination is Pushing African American Families Out of DC

For media inquiries, contact: Kate Scott, ERC Deputy Director,, (202) 370-3220

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2018 — Today, the Equal Rights Center (ERC), a national non-profit civil rights organization based in Washington, DC, released a new report based on a civil rights testing investigation into whether some African American families with children experience illegal discrimination in the DC housing market. Testing revealed numerous instances of source of income discrimination against Housing Choice Voucher holders, which is tantamount to racial discrimination in DC.

The Next Generation Segregation report contributes new insights to the ongoing conversation about racial inequities and gentrification in DC. The investigation and report is grounded in a review of complex and interplaying factors such as population shifts, changes in the DC housing market, and racial wealth disparities that together are pushing African American families into neighborhoods the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calls “racially or ethnically concentrated areas of poverty,” or out of DC altogether. The tests conducted as part of the investigation indicate that individual level discrimination in the housing market may also be contributing to these trends.

The Equal Rights Center conducted a total of 35 civil rights tests to investigate whether housing providers discriminated against families with children and Housing Choice Voucher holders. Tests didn’t reveal differential treatment on the basis of applicant family sizes, but did reveal landlords refusing to accept Housing Choice Vouchers and providing incorrect information about what their obligations are under District fair housing laws. “Population data clearly illustrate that African American families with children are either leaving DC or increasingly segregated in Wards 7 and 8,” said Kate Scott, Deputy Director of the Equal Rights Center. “Fifty years after the adoption of the Fair Housing Act, it is disappointing to see that housing discrimination operating at multiple levels is still a large piece of the puzzle.”

More than half of the 15 phone tests designed to uncover discrimination against Housing Choice Voucher holders revealed concerning discrimination from landlords against African American families with children trying to rent homes with multiple bedrooms while using Vouchers. According to the report, “three tests reflected outright denials of the Voucher, and five tests showed housing providers or property management companies disclosing incorrect or confusing information in response to questions about whether they accepted Vouchers from testers posing as potential applicants.” Notably, statistical analysis indicates that a refusal to rent to Voucher holders in DC is 71 times more likely to exclude African American renters than white renters.

“We want to make sure that DC is a place where all of its residents can thrive,” said Melvina Ford, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Center. “In order to do so, housing providers, lawmakers, funders, and government and business leaders must take decisive action to undo the legacies of segregation and displacement that our latest report explores.”

In response to the findings, the Next Generation Segregation report includes a series of targeted recommendations to housing providers, property management companies, single-family homeowners renting out their properties, DC government agencies, and local funders. In addition, anyone who believes they may have experienced housing discrimination can report it to the Equal Rights Center.


Kate Scott
Deputy Director
Equal Rights Center
(202) 370-3220


ABOUT THE EQUAL RIGHTS CENTER: The Equal Rights Center is a civil rights organization that identifies and seeks to eliminate unlawful and unfair discrimination in housing, employment and public accommodations in its home community of Greater Washington DC and nationwide. The Equal Rights Center’s core strategy for identifying unlawful and unfair discrimination is civil rights testing. When the Equal Rights Center identifies discrimination, it seeks to eliminate it through the use of testing data to educate the public and business community, support policy advocacy, conduct compliance testing and training, and, if necessary, take enforcement action. For more information, please visit

The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.

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