Asian Americans Face Significant Housing Discrimination According to Study by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

June 14, 2013
Kevin Sanada
(202) 223-2442
Asian Americans Face Significant Housing Discrimination According to Study by U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
WASHINGTON, DC – Asian American homebuyers and renters face discrimination and adverse treatment as or more often than other communities of color when seeking a home, according to findings from a newly released study from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and The Urban Institute. The study, titled “Housing Discrimination against Racial and Ethnic Minorities 2012”, shows that discrimination is still widely prevalent in major metropolitan real estate markets across the country. Most alarmingly, the types and methods of discrimination uncovered by this study are generally undetectable by the home seekers themselves.
“This report clearly shows that discrimination continues to be a systemic problem in the housing industry, especially for communities of color,” remarked Lisa Hasegawa, Executive Director of the National Coalition for Asian Pacific American Community Development (National CAPACD). “The implications here are extensive, as housing discrimination significantly impacts educational and economic opportunities. The findings reveal that we still have further to go as a nation to safeguard the civil liberties guaranteed to all Americans under the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.”
Researchers coordinated more than 8,000 paired tests in 28 metropolitan areas where two individuals (one white and the other Asian, Black, or Hispanic) were matched on gender, age, and family composition. The testers, posing as equally qualified home seekers, inquired about available homes or apartments and catalogued how many homes they were told about as well as how many homes they were actually shown. While the findings were not disaggregated by Asian American subgroups, the methodology selected a mix of testers that reflected the diversity of AAPIs in each testing area.
Key highlights from the report include: 
  • On average, Asian American homebuyers are told about 15.5% less homes and are shown 18.8% less homes than non-Hispanic White buyers. Similarly, prospective Asian American renters are told about 9.8% less homes and are shown 6.6% less units.
    • For every two in-person visits, Asians are told about one fewer unit, with Whites 9.2 points more likely to be favored.
    • For every two in-person visits, Asians are shown 1 fewer home, with Whites 13.9 points more likely to be favored.
  • These rates are comparable or higher than the rates of discrimination faced by Hispanic and African American home seekers. 
  • Researchers also specifically noted that “minority home seekers whose ethnicity is more readily identifiable” (according to name, physical appearance or accent, for example) are significantly more likely to be denied an appointment than minorities perceived to be white.
  • With regards to trends over time, Asian renters are more likely than a decade ago to be shown fewer units, while trends for black and Hispanic renters seem to be improving.
The unique methodology of this study brings to light many damaging, yet commonly unnoticed and unreported problems. One anecdote shared by researchers included an Asian American woman who was shown only one apartment and a white borrower of comparable qualifications who was shown that same apartment as well as three additional units. While victims of this type of discrimination are often unaware of the unequal treatment, it clearly increases the length and cost of a home search, constrains opportunities, and limits choices. The report concludes that fair housing enforcement alone is insufficient and calls for a multipronged strategy to encourage diverse neighborhoods and to equalize the quality of services, resources, and amenities in minority neighborhoods.
“National CAPACD applauds HUD and The Urban Institute for bringing systemic housing discrimination against communities of color to light and strongly supports their recommendation that local fair housing organizations expand and strengthen their relationships with Asian American communities,” noted Hasegawa. “We will continue to work with HUD and policymakers to implement their recommendations, particularly increased support for culturally and linguistically capable housing counselors and strategies that include housing development that preserves affordable options in gentrifying neighborhoods and neighborhood reinvestment.”   
For more information about National CAPACD, find us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.
National CAPACD is a national advocacy organization dedicated to addressing the community development needs of diverse and rapidly growing Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander (AANHPI) communities throughout the country.
To download the full report, please visit HUD's website.