Realtors apologize for housing discrimination as new cases arise

by Ezekiel J. Walker
Realtors apologize for housing discrimination as new cases arise
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Last month, St. Louis Realtors — the St. Louis area’s largest real estate trade group — issued a formal apology for past discriminatory practices. The National Association of Realtors issued an apology in 2020. Realtor groups in cities like Atlanta and Chicago have also made similar efforts.

“The discrimination to which the Black community was subjected to was part of a system designed to cause residential racial segregation, led by the federal government, supported by the banking system and the real estate industry, and driven by practices like redlining and the use of restrictive covenants,” the apology from St. Louis Realtors reads.

While museums are doing their part to return artifacts to countries of the motherland, the very land here – stolen by European invaders and enriched by enslaved Africans – has been historically denied or undervalued to Black applicants.

A 2018 Brookings Report concluded that homes in Black-majority communities are undervalued, on average, by $48,000 per home, costing African Americans upward of $156 billion.

According to ABC News, St. Louis was notorious for housing discrimination in the mid-20th century, when Black applicants were frequently denied mortgages, white homeowners were encouraged by real estate agents to move once a neighborhood began to integrate, and certain areas of the region were “redlined,” meaning loans to buy homes in those areas were nearly impossible to acquire.

KARE 11 NBC reports that The Minneapolis Area Realtors announced an apology for discriminatory practices in real estate at a news conference Wednesday and outlined policy changes to increase homeownership among people of color.

Black Minnesotans’ homeownership rate is more than 50% lower than white households and the gap has been getting bigger since the 1950s, according to the MAR news release.

While cities like St. Louis and Minneapolis are mere reflections of many US cities with similar statistics, housing discrimination is a problem even outside of America’s borders. In Canada, two in 10 consumers say they’ve been treated unfairly because of their identity, with those who are Black, Indigenous or of color and LGBTQ2S+ individuals more likely to report such treatment, according to CBC.

The Fighting for Fair Housing report says more than one-third of Canadian realtors have experienced discrimination or racism and one in four BIPOC say a client has refused to work with them because of their identity.

Housing discrimination is an active, breathing problem

Though several domestic realtor groups are apologetic and aim to improve their flawed industry, other realtors continue to operate unmasked. Such was the case for a Texas couple who in September, filed a federal discrimination lawsuit against a real estate firm and an agent after they were allegedly turned away from buying condos because they were Black, KHOU 11 reports.

In New York, a May new lawsuit alleged renters with government-issued vouchers were being discriminated against. Then,  they sued more than 100 real estate professionals, accused of denying low-income New Yorkers access to a home, CBS2’s Aundrea Cline-Thomas reported.

In September, three Black real estate investors filed a discrimination lawsuit in a federal court in the Houston area. According to CNN, the lawsuit claims that in August a real estate agent refused them the option to purchase three condominiums in a newly constructed community.

Redlining and gentrification have been authorized and enforced by real estate agents who controlled where Black people could live in America. Though real estate companies are apologetic for their racial misdeeds, it will take corrective actions to make amends of their past prejudicial and present practices.

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