Same sex couples still face significant discrimination in housing

By David Ferguson
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 9:24 EDT
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Lesbian couple at home via Shutterstock
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A new study by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) found that same sex couples are more likely to be passed over as tenants than heterosexual couples in the online rental housing market. According to a press release from HUD, the treatment afforded to same sex couples is “significantly less favorable” than that which their heterosexual counterparts receive.

The study, said HUD, was the first ever of its kind. It examined some 6,833 email exchanges between prospective landlords and tenants in 50 different metropolitan areas between June of 2011 and October 2011.

The press released explained that in the study, “two emails were sent to the housing provider regarding the unit advertised online. The only difference between the emails was whether the couple was same-sex or heterosexual. Unfavorable treatment was measured by whether the tester was told the unit was available, asked to contact the landlord, invited to the see the apartment, or received any response at all.”

The Department found that, on average, gay male couples were 15.9 percent less likely to receive a favorable response from landlords and lesbian couples were 15.6 percent less likely. Surprisingly, cities in states with legislative protections in place actually showed more adverse treatment toward same sex couples than states without legislation in place.

Shanna L. Smith, President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance said in a release, “This study serves as evidence that there is a dire need to include protections for the LGBT community in the federal Fair Housing Act. More enforcement of these laws is also necessary as discrimination continues at high rates even in states that have these protections for the LGBT community. The HUD study is groundbreaking in both its scope and magnitude. While the discrimination statistics are no surprise, the study itself was a crucial first step that needed to be taken to better understand the extent of housing discrimination against people based simply on their sexual orientation.”

The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968 and amended in 1988, is a federal law passed to eliminate discrimination in housing based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status or disability. The Act does not include protections for sexual orientation or gender identity.

[image of lesbian couple at home via Shutterstock.com]

David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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