12th and 19th Ave apartment buildings hit in rental discrimination stings

… testers for racial minorities, gender identity, and sexual orientation were quoted higher rents than whites

Two Capitol Hill-area apartment buildings were among 13 in Seattle recently given “director’s charges” by the city alleging rental housing discrimination following random inspections last year. Overall, 64% of tests for “Race” discrimination “showed evidence of different treatment” and 63% of “Sexual orientation” tests also resulted in unfair treatment.

Testers who posed as prospective renters conducted 124 tests looking for discrimination based on race, national origin, sexual orientation and gender identity. They found that African Americans and Latinos were told about criminal background and credit history checks more frequently than white testers and were asked more often about their spouses’ employment history.

In some cases, the city reported testers for racial minorities, gender identity, and sexual orientation were quoted higher rents than whites. They were also shown fewer amenities, provided fewer applications and brochures, and were shown fewer vacant units.

Management companies for Packard Apartments and The Views at Madison have agreed to settle their charges along with companies for 10 other Seattle buildings. The Neptune in South Lake Union was the only building to challenge its charge.

A spokesperson for Portland-based Guardian Management, which manages The Views the 19th and Madison, told CHS one employee has been terminated after allegedly discriminating against a tester based on race.

While Packard management company Blanton Turner has settled the charge that it discriminated against a tester for being gay, a spokesperson told CHS the company denies there was any wrongdoing at the 12th and E Pine building. Here’s how Blanton’s Chasten Fulbright described what happened:

The prospect was not shown a unit because she arrived at Packard without an appointment on a busy day when other prospective tenants had appointments. She could have easily made an appointment and returned later but never did. As we all know, sometimes when you “walk-in” you are lucky and other times you are not. On another occasion, the City sent another woman to the Packard who was able to walk-in and tour the building. It was a slower day. That person was not gay.

Patricia Lally, director of the Office for Civil Rights, called the discrimination “undeniable.”

“These test results are not isolated incidents –- they demonstrate patterns of behavior that have profound impacts on people’s lives,” Lally said in a statement.

The director’s charges don’t necessarily mean the companies acted illegally, but that “testers experienced inconsistencies that favored them in a familiar pattern: testers who were perceived as white, born in the U.S., straight or gender-normative had more favorable experiences.”

Blanton Turner manages several Capitol Hill buildings, including Chloe, Hollywood Lofts, Gatsby, and Belroy Apartments.

Both management companies told CHS they support discrimination testing, both at the city level and internally. In addition to paying for the testing as part of their settlement, the management companies will require their employees to “attend fair housing training, provide funding for a fair housing campaign, and post fair housing notices in their properties to inform residents of their rights.”

The civil rights office contracted with the Fair Housing Center of Washington to conduct testing between January and June in 2014. Here’s what testers found:

Race (42 tests): 64% showed evidence of different treatment.
National origin (43 tests): 67% showed evidence of different treatment.
Sexual orientation (30 tests): 63% showed evidence of different treatment.
Gender identity (9 tests): 67% showed evidence of different treatment.

“Unfortunately, housing discrimination is not a thing of the past, but a reality for too many people in Seattle,” said Seattle Mayor Ed Murray in a statement. “These test results tell us that we still have work to do to share information with landlords on their responsibilities and with tenants, so they understand their rights.”

The city budget includes $50,000 for annual testing. Here’s the full list of apartment buildings charged:

  • Verse (421 23rd Ave. S. 98144)
  • Flats at Interbay (3036 16th Ave. W 98119)
  • Neptune (912 Dexter Ave. N 98109)
  • Link Apartments (4550 38th Ave SW 98126)
  • Via 6 (2121 6th Ave. 98121)
  • The Corydon (5101 25th Ave. NE 98105)
  • Expo (118 Republican St. 98109)
  • AVA Ballard (5555 14th Ave NW 98107)
  • AVA Queen Anne (330 3rd Ave. W. 98119)
  • Leva on Market (1545 NW Market St. 98107)
  • Packard Apartments (1530 12th Ave. 98122)
  • The Station at Othello (4219 S. Othello St. 98118)
  • Views at Madison Apartment Homes (1615 19th Ave. 98122)
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20 thoughts on “12th and 19th Ave apartment buildings hit in rental discrimination stings

  1. Seattle is a one trick pony. This “inspection” is so unscientific and dependant upon the day it’s worthless. Get over it Seattle. The Klan osmt under every pebble.

    • The Klan may not be under every pebble in Seattle, but this city is rife with institutional and subliminal racism. And the PC veneer it often wears makes it very challenging to push through. These tests are a case in point. The fact that they are happening at all is a good sign.

    • “This “inspection” is so unscientific and dependant upon the day it’s worthless.”

      And you are the “expert’ judge of this because???

      Exactly WHAT “scientific measure” would YOU deem appropriate?

      One where the tester identifies themselves?

    • Actually, for race, national origin, and sexual orientation, there were enough tests completed to adequately test for statistically significant differences (and ruling out, with at least 95% certainty, that the unequal treatment was not due to chance). And, according to the data published, 63-67% is a significant difference (P = 0.003). To translate, that means if we were to repeat the tests again (e.g., on different days), there is 97% chance that people would be treated differently by race, national origin, or sexual orientation.

      • You have to factor in your dealing with humans, all on different days. Where are the advertising for all these racist employees? Is it in racist weekly? What I am saying is that the way these tests were conducted four different people may come up with four different conclusions. Unless stat girl wrote the methodology, supervised the testing, and contacted the exact same employees in almost the exact same circumstances then there is no definitive way to come to these conclusions. Very serious charges should come with a high burden of proof. I understand it is a civil matter which means the burden isn’t as high as in criminal matters. However, charges such as these can ruin a business. Investigations should be conducted with the utmost of care.

      • Yes you could get a different human experience on different days. But I know that a few of these buildings/management companies pay commission for new leases and renewals. If people are making commission they’re more likely to be treat others based on their feelings about their qualifications. Hence the whole meaning of discrimination. I think it’s probably a pretty good test to get a pulse on how apartments are getting rented out. I wouldn’t get to bent out of shape about it’s validity and acknowledge people discriminate.

  2. After renting several apartments over the years on the hill, I’ve encountered my fair share of this back in the day, and I’m a gay white guy. Good on keeping this out the open and calling them on the BS. Systemic racism/ cultural bias is alive and well in this country.

  3. I wonder if there is ever testing done for discrimination based on having children. As a father and someone who has participated in the rental market, I have been discriminated against multiple times. Although it’s usually subtle, I’ve been denied an application because the neighbors “weren’t ready to have kids in the building”. What?

      • Well, while this can’t be said about all children. My dog doesn’t run around the restaurants unrestrained. My dog doesn’t scream loudly in them either. i’m not down on all kids but if my dog doesn’t behave I leave him at home. this said, I love kids and watch the kids in the family. I just see many folks complain Seattle is kinder to dogs but …the trained ones…like the humans. i don’t mean that disrespectfully but there are reasons…

      • Um. Wow. Ryan, this comment is exactly why some families feel uncomfortable and unwanted in many parts of Capitol Hill. Do you think parents with unruly kids in restaurants are enjoying themselves? Maybe some of us tune it out more than you’d like us to, but kids are people too and it turns out they have their own personalities, likes, dislikes, behaviors, and temperaments They are human, and we can’t always control them the way we (and obviously you) wish we could. These days, we’re bad parents if we let our kids squirm and make noise, and then we’re considered bad parents if we give them a phone or iPad to play with during dinner to keep them quiet.

        There is definitely discrimination in the Capitol Hill rental market regarding children and families. That should have been part of this study too. Maybe it will be, next time.

      • The problem is that when you’re in public, you’re making the human you’re responsible for everyone else’s problem. Some of us choose not to have kids so as not to take on that responsibility. You’ve made a different choice, which is absolutely yours to make and more power to you if you’re up to the task, but that doesn’t leave the rest of us responsible for dealing with the consequences.

      • However, it’s completely LEGAL to discriminate against dogs (and cats too–meow!) when renting an apartment, so those of us with four-legged roommates have no choice but to look for more tolerant landlords in these situations.

    • I agree there is discrimination against those with children in the rental market. I experienced the following ‘reasons’ why a unit would not be suitable when searching for a rental with one school age child:
      1) This is an ‘adult’ building so your child would not like living here CLICK 2) We have a pool here so it would not be safe for your child CLICK 3) The other tenants are not ready to live in a building with children 4) You have a child? CLICK 5) Public housing is for people with children, you should try that CLICK 6) You have a child? Oh sorry, there are no vacancies here (after responding to an ad) CLICK.
      Finally I stopped telling them until they offered me the place, then I would say – ‘I’m sure it won’t be a problem that one of those renters on the list is a child, will it? Of course not, that wouldn’t be legal!’

      • WOW. SO. ILLEGAL. So illegal. I can’t believe you went through that. I’m so sorry! I think it’s only gotten worse since we stopped renting and bought.

      • I’m sure it has. I loved living on the hill, I’d lived there and then the Central District for over a decade and loved renting – no maintenance etc. – but it was the final straw and main impetus for finally figuring out how to buy something.

  4. The people who let their kids run around restaurants unrestrained also lack the insight and ability to train their dogs properly. While i hesitate to compare children and dogs (sorry all you dog lovers out there), it is not about either but really about those in charge of them. I have personally been irritated more frequently by barking dogs and their oblivious owners than I have by children in restaurants.

  5. This happened to me years ago when I was a bro-ish white undergrad at the UW. Three of us tried to rent a quietly advertised place on Capitol Hill, and were flatly rejected by the owner who said she only rented to women, since “guys like us” caused too many problems. Maybe if I would have said I was gay she would have reconsidered, but I think she pretty much eliminated any young college dude straight away.