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Open Communities, a fair housing agency based in Evanston, was one of several nationwide housing organizations that announced a settlement May 6 with Redfin, one of the nation’s largest real estate services companies.
The settlement will expand opportunities for consumers in communities of color in Cook and DuPage counties of metropolitan Chicago. Redfin employs over 100 lead agents serving this two-county region.
The complaint alleged that Redfin’s minimum home price policy has a substantial adverse impact on buyers and sellers of homes in predominantly non-white communities based on race and national origin. The complaint also alleged that Redfin offered services in non-white zip codes at a disproportionately higher rate than in white zip codes in Chicago and other cities covered by the lawsuit.
Under the settlement, Redfin will end its national minimum home price policy, expand real estate services for lower-priced homes in 10 metropolitan areas and pay $4 million to resolve a discrimination lawsuit brought against the firm.
The $4 million proceeds will be used to monitor Redfin’s compliance with the agreement, invest in programs that expand homeownership opportunities in Chicago and other cities covered by the lawsuit and pay for litigation and investigation expenses.
“This lawsuit highlights the importance of holding internet-based companies to the same standards and fair housing laws as other entities,” said Cheryl Lawrence, Chief Executive Officer of Open Communities. “This is one more step forward in the fight for housing equity.”
The lawsuit was brought after a lengthy investigation by the fair housing organizations. They alleged that Redfin’s minimum home price policy violated the federal Fair Housing Act by discriminating against sellers and buyers of homes in communities of color. The plaintiffs also alleged that policies that limit or deny services for homes priced under certain values perpetuate racial segregation and contribute to the racial wealth gap.
The settlement “brings much-needed financial relief to communities harmed by Redfin’s policies while changing those policies to prevent future harm,” said Michael Chavarria, Executive Director of HOPE Fair Housing Center.
Redfin has agreed to make changes that will stand for at least three years after an initial implementation period. The company will also implement an outreach and recruiting plan to increase racial diversity in its workforce, advertise its services to reach non-white consumers and require its agents and local partner real estate firms to attend fair housing training.
Submitted by Open Communities