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Cityscape: Volume 17 Number 3 | Article 17


Housing Discrimination Today

Volume 17, Number 3

Mark D. Shroder
Michelle P. Matuga

Evaluation Tradecraft: Fair Housing Testing: Selecting, Training, and Managing an Effective Tester Pool

Claudia L. Aranda
Sarale H. Sewell
Urban Institute

Evaluation Tradecraft
Evaluation Tradecraft presents short articles about the art of evaluation in housing and urban research. Through this department of
Cityscape, the Office of Policy Development and Research presents developments in the art of evaluation that might not be described in detail in published evaluations. Researchers often describe what they did and what their results were, but they might not give readers a step-by-step guide for implementing their methods. This department pulls back the curtain and shows readers exactly how program evaluation is done. If you have an idea for an article of about 3,000 words on a particular evaluation method or an interesting development in the art of evaluation, please send a one-paragraph abstract to

The paired-testing methodology originated as a tool for fair housing enforcement and has been used in the multiple housing discrimination research studies funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development since the late 1970s. In a paired test, testers who are comparably matched on personal, financial, and homeseeking characteristics— except for the characteristic being investigated, such as race or ethnicity—independently record information received by a housing provider. Each tester in the pair collects data that can detect and document the incidence and forms of discrimination at multiple points in the homeseeking process. Whether a fair housing testing study is designed for enforcement or research purposes, its successful implementation requires an effective tester pool. This article highlights important steps in tester selection, training, and management, all of which have been executed by the Urban Institute’s Field Operations Team since the spring of 2011 while supervising the completion of more than 13,000 paired tests across multiple housing discrimination studies regarding race and ethnicity, familial status, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity.


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