Long Island Divided – Newsday’s Undercover Experiment of Real Estate Discrimination

1989, Bill Dedman received a Pulitzer Prize for his investigative reporting on racial discrimination by mortgage lenders in middle-income African-American neighborhoods in Atlanta, called “The Color of Money

He helped design a new study in 2016 to evaluate housing discrimination in Long Island, NY. They carefully designed a study (designed experiment) by training undercover real estate clients to interact with real estate agents.

The report was released in November 2019 by Newsday after 3 years of analysis and validation.

They conducted 86 paired tests of different race couples (white, African American, Latino and Asian), and the encounters were videotaped for later analysis. 12 national realtor brands (representing more than half the realtors) were chosen for the study, and were tested at least 3 times in 27 communities.

They were evaluated on two dimensions by fair housing experts:

  • Interaction with home buyers
  • Which homes they were directed to

Two of the 12 agencies produced no evidence of disparate treatment, where the other 10 did find unlawful incidences. In about 50% of the cases, black testers were not shown the same listings as their white tester. Other situations involved inconsistent requirements for proof of identification or pre-approvals, and withholding information or steering testers to certain neighborhoods.

Watch the 40 minute video summary at https://projects.newsday.com/long-island/real-estate-investigation-videos/

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