… 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)