Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice,” a report compiled by the City, is expected to be released in the next few weeks. At the Jan. 10 City Council meeting, City staff presented a summary of “impediments to fair housing and issues relating to fair-housing choices identified to date.”
Interfaith Housing of the Northern Suburbs conducted a sales audit in 2006 testing “the top three Evanston real estate agencies and two condominium developers,” according to the City. Between June 2008 and May 2010, Interfaith also conducted two “major” housing audits of rental properties in Evanston and elsewhere.
In the 2006 study, Interfaith says it found that the realtors did not appear to have discriminatory marketing or sales practices for residential properties. “Evanston’s work to educate realtors about fair housing laws appears to have had positive impact,” the City said, adding that such work must be ongoing.
The “right of first refusal” that many condominium associations have – allowing the associaton to first consider purchasing any unit for sale – has the potential to become discriminatory, the City said, if associations add discriminatory requirements for ownership.
Both the City and Interfaith have received reports of discrimination in the rental market in Evanston and elsewhere. The groups that reported possible discrimination include parents with children, single-parent families, college students and Latinos. Discriminatory practices reported, according to the City, were less-favorable lease terms to households with children than to households without children; higher rental rates to Latinos and college students than to others; and higher security deposits required of some tenants.
According to the City, Interfaith found the following differences when conducting “matched-pair [white and African American] testing”: African American testers were treated differently from white testers 55 percent of the time – being told that deposits were higher, being required to pay additional application fees and not being offered the same move-in perks as white testers.
With both sales and rentals, Latinos were treated “differently from white Anglos to a lesser but still significant extent.” Persons with disabilities who had service animals were told erroneously they had to pay a “pet deposit.”
Not all these discriminatory acts occurred in Evanston, the City said, but added that the City is “concerned” and is working with Interfaith “to assess the extent of discriminatory practices in Evanston as part of its ‘Analysis of Impediments.’”