Modern Day Redlining
National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) et al. v. Redfin Corporation
On October 28, 2020, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and nine other local fair housing organizations, including New York City’s Fair Housing Justice Center; Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit; Fair Housing Rights Center of Southeastern Pennsylvania; Hope Fair Housing Center; Lexington Fair Housing Council; Long Island Housing Services; Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council; Open Communities; and South Suburban Housing Center filed a federal fair housing lawsuit in the Western District of Washington (Seattle Division) against the Redfin Corporation. The lawsuit alleges that Redfin provides better service and financial incentives to buyers and sellers of homes in white areas while proving less service or no service at all in communities of color. Click here to read the complaint.
The Redfin complaint alleges a form of redlining where the real estate company is simply not providing the same level of service to communities of color as it is to many predominantly white areas. This was also one of the findings in Newsday’s 2019 “Long Island Divided” report. Part 4 of that report was entitled, “They looked almost everywhere else: Agents avoided listings in many of Long Island’s minority communities.”
The agents tested in Newsday’s investigation “largely avoided the minority communities, recommending homes there only 15 times. But when they did offer listings in minority communities, they sent those listings more often to minority buyers than to whites. Freeport, Elmont, Hempstead, Brentwood, Central Islip, Uniondale, Roosevelt and Wyandanch fell 211 times within the home search areas presented by testers to agents.” While Redfin was not one of the real estate companies tested in the Newsday investigation, the maps below illustrate how Redfin is also providing inferior service to buyers and sellers of homes in the same eight Black and Brown communities identified in the Newsday investigation.
Newsday also pointed out that of the twelve real estate companies tested, none had offices in these eight communities. Newsday reported “Altogether, they have 218 branch offices in Nassau and Suffolk counties but no offices in the eight communities where most of the Island’s racial minorities live. The average white population in the towns where the top real estate brands have their offices ranges from 75 percent to 86 percent white.” Redfin has one office on Long Island in Jericho New York which has a Black population of 1.5% and a Hispanic population of 2.8% (2018 American Community Survey).
Why are real estate companies still failing to provide service in Black and Brown communities on Long Island? Fifty-two years after the passage of the Fair Housing Act, we still have a dual and discriminatory housing market. Real estate companies maintain policies and engage in practices that treat homebuyers differently based on race and treat neighborhoods differently based on their racial make-up. What must be done to end racism in residential real estate? Read FHJC’s policy paper here.
Click here to watch the Testing the Divide video which was part of Newsday’s “Long Island Divided” investigation.
Redfin Service on Long Island Based on Home Listings from August 20, 2020
Redfin Service in the Eight Long Island Communities Avoided by Real Estate Agents in the Newsday Investigation
Nassau County Communities (Overview)
Suffolk County Communities (Overview)
|Nassau County Detail Maps|
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| Suffolk County Detail Maps|
(Click to enlarge)