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Discrimination against minorities is a common challenge in the world and it affects many people living in the United States. Some of the minority groups include immigrants, gays and lesbians, women, and racial and ethnic minorities. Housing discrimination refers to the restriction of the protected class of people in purchasing or renting houses on the bases of their race, gender, ethnicity, age, nationality, sexual orientation, marital status or veteran status. The discrimination is illegal since the enactment of the Fair Housing Act, which was a part of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 (Massey, 2015). Before the Act, most of the minority groups were discriminated against and they could hardly access housing services. However, many years after the Act was passed, many minority groups still find it hard accessing houses and the discrimination still remains a challenge. There are still many actions that the government can take to reduce discrimination and ensure that all citizens get fair access to housing.
Overview and History of Housing Discrimination
The housing discrimination dates back to the time of the enactment of the 13th amendment in 1865. Once slavery was abolished in the United States, which marked the end of the civil war, then the Jim Crow laws were introduced. They supported the segregation of the citizens as per their races. One of the main reasons for these laws was that the freed slaves had become part of the society but their relationship with the former masters was not an easy one. The laws were known as "separate but equal" because they supported the establishment of separate public facilities for the Blacks and the whites (Power, 2016). In housing, the laws made it difficult for the blacks to access any housing and this affected their ability to get shelter. It led to many of them becoming homeless while others survived in shacks and informal settlements. The discrimination was abolished after the 1965 enactment of the Fair Housing Act but it still remains a challenge to date.
In the world today, there are many homeless people and the United States has a large number in the streets of the large cities. According to Jones (2016), the African Americans are overrepresented in among the homeless and this raises the question of why the trend exists. The high rate of homelessness among this minority group is also associated with high mortality and morbidity, which is one of the main challenges associated with racial discrimination. In other words, the mortality and morbidity are high among the minority groups, which is one of the outcomes of the discriminatory experiences they have. Currently, it is estimated that about four million people experience housing discrimination in the United States only. However, out of this number, only a few of them report it to the authority. For example, in 2014, only 27,000 cases were reported to the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (Friedman, 2015). A high number of these complaints came from the minority group across the country.
Forms of Discrimination
Racial and Ethnic Discrimination
The racial and ethnic discrimination in housing is the major type of discrimination, with most of the minority races and ethnic groups reporting the highest number of complaints. Even though the segregation has ended over time, most of the African Americans in the metropolitan areas continue to live in the areas that are either highly segregated or in the range of high segregation. According to a Housing Discrimination Study done in 2012, racial discrimination has reduced from 1989. In the 1990s, the favor of the Whites against the Blacks in informing the needy clients about a rental unit was high by 7% (Friedman, 2015). The rate has reduced over time and the Blacks are at a higher rate of getting informed of a rental unit today as compared to the past years. The data shows that there is still a challenge in the housing market and the minorities face racial discrimination when seeking to buy or rent a house.
The other form of racial discrimination is that the Black was denied a chance to tour the advertised homes with the real estate brokers. One of the common lies is that these homes are no longer available, and it helps the Whites to retain the access of the houses and keep the other races away. A good example is a discrimination against the Arab American women, whose replies were found to be much less as compared to those of the Whites. In the survey done in 2014, Arab American women applied for rental and purchase of houses from the local and national agencies and they got 40% fewer replies as compared to the whites. The research took place in New York and Los Angeles, an indication that the challenge still exists in today's society (Gaddis & Ghoshal, 2015). The above analysis is a representation of one of the racial discrimination trends across the country. The names of the applicants to rental and purchase of houses are a determining factor when the replies are done. Most of those who have a name related to the minority groups are at a higher chance of not getting a reply as compared to the whites. Another common trend is that the minority applicants are rarely shown an extra house when they visit the agents. They rarely get informed of the extra options available apart from the ones they get to apply for and to visit.
Discrimination against the Disabled
The other form of discrimination is based on disability. Disabled people are among the minority groups and their rights are protected in the constitution. However, their rights to access housing are violated in many instances. One of the common ones is against the visually impaired. The group is denied chances to rent or buy houses because the private tenants and housing agents are uncomfortable having them around them, mostly due to the view that they are a bother. There is also a high rate of structural discrimination, whereby the houses are built in a way that the visually impaired people find it hard to navigate through (Verhaeghe, Van der Bracht, & Van de Putte, 2016). Most of the visually impaired people find it difficult to access the housing services as compared to the rest of the population.
The other form is discrimination against mentally disabled people in society. About 15 million people in the United States have some form of a mental disability and they are victims of housing discrimination (Hammel, 2017). The high number of mentally-ill people makes it difficult for them to remain in the special care homes and they are included in the community-based settings. Results from the above analysis show that the mentally ill are less likely to be informed about a housing unit that has been advertised and they are also less likely to be accepted into the available units. The tenants and housing agents usually consider these people unfit and dangerous to live with. The stigmatization surrounding mental disabilities contributes to this feeling and makes it difficult for these unfortunate Americans to access the housing they need and deserve. The challenge affects many people but there are few documented evidence on the same.
Discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender
The lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) minority face a high level of discrimination in the society and the housing sector is not an exception. The survey done in Texas in 2015 shows that 22% of these minorities experienced housing discrimination in the state. The same report also showed that 12% of the LGBT people were homeless as a result of the high stigma against them (Mallory, Brown, Russell, & Sears, 2017). The statistics mean that the group does not get a similar treatment from the housing agents and owners. Tenants are also against accommodating them in the apartments and this increases the caution of the agents and landlords. There are also many cases of evictions related to this sexual orientation. Landlords evict these people from their apartments using lies as an excuse. For example, some landlords claim they need space for renovations and that the tenants have to pave way for it. A similar trend is seen in public accommodation facilities and in the other states.
Other Forms of Discrimination
There are other minority groups that face housing discrimination in different ways. For example, the physically disabled people are denied a chance to access, rent or buy a house based on their appearance. Just like the other groups, they are lied to and fail to get information when there is an advertisement. The young people are also discriminated against based on their age, whereby some landlords and housing agents consider them unable to afford the houses. Women are also denied equal chances to men in some places, whereby the male agents and landlords may look down upon them based on their gender. Muslims, Jews, and Buddhists are also among the minority groups and they also experience challenges when accessing houses. After the 9/11 attack in the US, the stigma against Muslims increased and this was also reflected in their search for houses.
The increased rate of discrimination based on personal and communal factors like race and ethnicity affects access to housing in the United States. It is a challenge that has affected the country since the abolishment of the slave trade in 1865 but it is still prevalent. The minority groups usually get fewer replies when they apply for houses as compared to their white counterparts. The challenge affects the African Americans most and it leads to a high rate of homelessness among them. One recommendation to have laws that protect the minority against the very specific cases of housing discrimination. The current law allows people to file for lawsuits against the discriminatory treatment but it should be specific about the housing discrimination. The challenge can reduce if there is a combined effort by all stakeholders to end it. The mentally disabled, physically disabled, Arab American women, youths, Muslims and other minority groups should have equal access to housing as the rest of the US population.
Friedman, S. (2015). Commentary: Housing discrimination research in the 21st century. Cityscape, 17(3), 143-150. Retrieved from https://www.questia.com/library/journal/1P3-3991749631/commentary-housing-discrimination-research-in-the
Gaddis, S. M., & Ghoshal, R. (2015). Arab American housing discrimination, ethnic competition, and the contact hypothesis. The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 660(1), 282-299. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0002716215580095
Hammel, J. (2017). Rental housing discrimination on the basis of mental disabilities: Results of pilot testing. Government Printing Office. Retrieved from https://www.huduser.gov/portal/publications/MentalDisabilities-FinalPaper.html
Jones, M. M. (2016). Does race matter in addressing homelessness? A review of the literature. World medical & health policy, 8(2), 139-156. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/wmh3.189%4010.1111/%28ISSN%291948-4682.social-determinants-of-health
Mallory, C., Brown, T. N. T., Russell, S., & Sears, B. (2017). The impact of stigma and discrimination against LGBT people in Texas. Los Angeles, CA: The Williams Institute, UCLA. Retrieved from http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/Texas-Impact-of-Stigma-and-Discrimination-Report-April-2017.pdf
Massey, D. S. (2015, June). The Legacy of the 1968 Fair Housing Act. In Sociological Forum (Vol. 30, pp. 571-588). Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/socf.12178
Power, G. (2016). Eugenics, Jim Crow, and Baltimore's Best. Retrieved from https://digitalcommons.law.uma...
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