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Discrimination in Metropolitan Housing Markets: National Results from Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 of the Housing Discrimination Study (HDS)


Posted Date: March 31, 2005

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The Housing Discrimination Study 2000 (HDS 2000) represents the most ambitious effort to date to measure the extent of housing discrimination in the United States against persons because of their race or color. It is the third nationwide effort sponsored by HUD to measure the amount of discrimination faced by minority home seekers. The previous studies were conducted in 1977 and 1989.

The report noted below provides national estimates of discrimination faced by African Americans and Hispanics in 2000/2001 as they searched for housing in the sales and rental markets. It also provides an accurate measure of how housing discrimination has changed for these groups since 1989.

Discrimination in Metropolitan Housing Markets: Phase 1

The results in this report are based on 4,600 paired tests in 23 metropolitan areas nationwide. The report shows large decreases between 1989 and 2000 in the level of discrimination experienced by Hispanics and African Americans seeking to a buy a home. There has also been a modest decrease in discrimination toward African Americans seeking to rent a unit. This downward trend, however, has not been seen for Hispanic renters. Hispanic renters now are more likely to experience discrimination in their housing search than do African American renters.

Housing Discrimination Against Racial And Ethnic Minorities 2012  Icon ImageWhile generally down since 1989, housing discrimination still exists at unacceptable levels. The greatest share of discrimination for Hispanic and African American home seekers can still be attributed to being told units are unavailable when they are available to non-Hispanic whites and being shown and told about less units than a comparable non-minority. Although discrimination is down on most measures for African American and Hispanic homebuyers, there are worrisome upward trends of discrimination in the areas of geographic steering for African Americans and, relative to non-Hispanic whites, the amount of help agents provide to Hispanics with obtaining financing. On the rental side, Hispanics are more likely in 2000 than in 1989 to be quoted a higher rent than their white counterpart for the same unit.

There are three volumes to this report, the main report, an annex, and a supplement. The main report provides the key findings; the annex provides more details on the data collection, analysis methods and metropolitan estimates; and the supplement uses 1,507 additional tests conducted in Phase 2 to provide state estimates for Alabama, California, Georgia, and New York, metropolitan estimates for the Baltimore MSA and the Miami MSA, and updated national estimates of discrimination for blacks and Hispanics.

Discrimination in Metropolitan Housing Markets: Phase 2 - Asians and Pacific Islanders

This study provides the first ever estimate of the level of discrimination experienced by Asians and Pacific Islanders. The results are based on 889-paired tests conducted in eleven metropolitan areas nationwide in 2000 and 2001. The key findings are that:

  • Asian and Pacific Islander prospective renters experienced consistent adverse treatment relative to comparable whites in 21.5 percent of tests, about the same as the level for African American and Hispanic renters.
  • Asian and Pacific Islander prospective homebuyers experienced consistent adverse treatment relative to comparable whites 20.4 percent of the time, with systematic discrimination occurring in housing availability, inspections, financing assistance, and agent encouragement.

In addition to the national estimate for Asians and Pacific Islanders, the report also provides a national estimate for Asians alone, an estimate for the continental U.S., statewide estimate of discrimination against Asians and Pacific Islanders in California, estimates of discrimination faced by Chinese and Koreans in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, and an estimate of discrimination faced by Southeast Asians in the Minneapolis metropolitan area.

Discrimination in Metropolitan Housing Markets: Phase 3 - Native Americans

This study provides estimates of the level of housing discrimination experienced by Native Americans when they search for housing in the metropolitan areas of Minnesota, Montana, and New Mexico. Across all three states, Native Americans receive consistently unfavorable treatment relative to whites in 28.5 percent of rental tests. Systematic discrimination is most observable on measures of availability. That is, whites are told the advertised unit is available, told about similar units, and told about more units than similarly qualified Native American testers. The level of consistent adverse treatment and systematic discrimination experienced by Native Americans in the metropolitan rental markets of the three states is greater than the national levels shown for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asians."

Quick Link to MSA Summaries

This page provides quick summaries of the housing discrimination results from all of the studies by the following breaks:

    - National
    - MSA*
    - States*

The summaries provide the level of consistent adverse treatment by race and tenure along with summaries of statistically significant levels of systematic adverse treatment for individual treatment variables. Click on individual MSAs or states to see the summary results.

*Note that for the most part, the metropolitan and state-level results show much fewer items as showing systematic discrimination than the national estimate. It is not because discrimination is necessarily different or less in the metropolitan areas than nationally, it simply reflects that the number of tests conducted in each metro area was small (relative to the total national sample), the lower-bound (net) estimates of discrimination are often not statistically significant. Generally, we conducted about 70 tests per tenure and per ethnic group in each metro area, a very challenging volume of testing for local organizations conducting the tests. However, at this sample size we would need to see net measures of about 10 percent or higher to be sure they were statistically significant. In general, because of the wide confidence intervals, we report the overall incidence of consistent white-favored treatment was comparable across most metro areas. The national estimates have much larger sample sizes (between 500 and 1200 tests for each tenure and ethnic/racial group), allowing us to measure discrimination with much greater precision than we do at the metropolitan level.

Housing Discrimination Study Data

(zipped file - 15 MB; unzips to 200 MB - when unzipping have "Use Folder Names" checked)

The Housing Discrimination Study (HDS) Public Use data sets contain all of the data in SAS format used to do the analysis reported in the HDS reports. Some data, such as the name and address of the agency being tested and data that a user might use to specifically identify a tester (such as date of birth and income) have been removed. In the cases where addresses were removed, the census tract geocodes and zip codes have been retained.

The data sets are available by Phase. It is highly recommended that users obtain and read the reports before using these data. Note that the data used for the "Phase 1 - Supplement" report are contained in the Phase 2 data files.

Each phase has its own data dictionary and copies of the forms (HDSDICTFORMS.ZIP) used in the data collection with the variable names written on to the forms. The data dictionaries represent the full data sets before items were deleted to protect confidentiality, so users are recommended to use the "proc contents" command in SAS to see what variables are actually in each file. The data dictionary does not include information on the skin tone files for phase 1 and phase 2 (skin tone data were not collected in phase 3). For using the skin tone data files read the "Read Me" file associated with those data along with the ".lst" file.

For each of the phases, the "raw" HDS data are provided. These are the data that show the outcomes from each side of a test. To analyze the data for paired test analysis, the minority and non-minority partners need to be merged together (see the Phase 1 data dictionary on how to do this). The raw files reflect different stages of each test. Page 2 of the Phase 1 data dictionary provides a sense of the testing "trees" and how they relate to the raw data files.

For Phase 1, we also provide "supplemental" data files that were used as part of the report analysis in Phase 1, and the "intermediate data" files that are merged files that allow for paired test analysis. We also provide the SAS code used to create those files in Phase 1. Users are cautioned that the code should be used as a guide to understand how the data have been analyzed. Users would need to make substantial modification to the code to actually run it in their computing environment. If users want to use the code or the "supplemental" and "intermediate" data files, they should consult the "readme" file in the "Phase 1 Code" folder. The code and a "readme" file are also provided for Phase 2 and Phase 3. Users use these data and code at their own risk. HUD, the Urban Institute, and the University of Connecticut are not providing any technical assistance on the use of the data.

The Phase 1 data files are somewhat different than Phase 2 and 3. This is because in Phase 1, all of the data were collected on paper and then keypunched. In Phases 2 and 3, most of the data was collected electronically (testers would return from a test and then complete a web-based form).

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