For Immediate Release
Ashley White, Equal Rights Center, 202.370.3204
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 30, 2013 —Today, the Equal Rights Center and Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP released a testing-based report revealing that Latinos seeking rental housing across the Commonwealth of Virginia experienced at least one form of adverse treatment as compared to their white counterparts in 55 percent of inquiries. The report, Precaución: Obstacles for Latinos in the Virginia Rental Housing Market, is based on a series of 106 tests.
The ERC conducted 106 matched-pair, in-person civil rights tests of rental properties in regions throughout the Commonwealth, including: the City of Fairfax, the City of Richmond, Henrico County, Loudoun County, Prince William County and Manassas, Roanoke County, Northwest Virginia (covering Augusta, Culpeper, Frederick, and Rockingham Counties), and Virginia Beach. In 55 percent of tests, the Latino tester received adverse, differential treatment as compared to the white tester, in at least one respect, including:
In recent years the ERC has received a growing number of complaints of hostility toward immigrant communities, particularly Latino communities. As a result, the ERC initiated an investigation that included fair housing testing in several locations across the Commonwealth with a growing Latino population in order to examine whether Latinos and their white counterparts are treated differently when seeking the same rental housing.
“Differential treatment based on national origin or perceived national origin is unlawful, yet this testing reveals that Latinos are often subject to unfair and sometimes illegal housing practices. While landlords may not actually say: ‘No Latinos,’ subtle forms of discrimination are another way of denying or discouraging individuals in their ability to live where they choose,” said Don Kahl, Executive Director of the Equal Rights Center. “While we are beginning to see movement toward a consensus around immigration reform, hostility towards immigrants at the local level, unfortunately, continues to result in unfair treatment for many—irrespective of their immigrant status.”
“Hostility towards immigrants hurts all of us, not just the groups being targeted,” said Maureen Donahue Hardwick, Regional Partner in Charge of Drinker Biddle’s Washington, DC office and one of the firm’s pro bono coordinators. “It is important that rental housing providers, Latinos, and the community as a whole understand the obstacles facing Latinos in the rental housing market and work together to eliminate those obstacles.”
In addition to the test findings, the report also includes several recommendations to address these findings. Recommendations include: (1) legislators should ensure that all immigration-related bills encourage fair housing and comply with federal civil rights laws; (2) housing providers should train staff and develop policies and practices that detail application requirements and fees to ensure uniformity in the information provided to applicants; and (3) tenants and prospective tenants should receive education and self-advocacy resources about their fair housing rights and what to do when these rights are violated.
To download a PDF of the report, visit www.equalrightscenter.org/Precaucion
About the Equal Rights Center (www.equalrightscenter.org)
Originally formed in 1983, the Equal Rights Center (ERC) is a national non-profit civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C. With members located in every state and the District of Columbia, the ERC works nationally to promote equal opportunity in housing, employment, disability rights, immigrant rights, and access to public accommodations and government services for all protected classes under federal, state, and local laws.
About Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (www.drinkerbiddle.com)
Drinker Biddle is a national law firm with 650 lawyers in 11 offices. In addition to its comprehensive range of traditional legal practices, Drinker Biddle also has a long history of handling pro bono work and taking on unpopular causes. Participation in this effort was made possible by the firm’s Barbara McDowell High Impact Pro Bono Initiative.