Survey: Blacks face New Orleans housing bias

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A home in the Lakeview section of New Orleans is open for inspection on April 21. Findings from a survey by housing advocates found black applicants encountered "less favorable treatment" by property owners than their white counterparts in 57.5 percent of those tests.Bill Haber / AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Blacks already feeling the pinch from a housing shortage in the New Orleans area after Hurricane Katrina are facing racial discrimination in their search for rental property, a survey by housing advocates found.

The survey sent black and white "testers" — paired by matching incomes, careers, family types and rental histories — to inquire about openings at 40 rental properties in metropolitan New Orleans.

The findings, released Tuesday by the Greater New Orleans Fair Housing Action Center, found blacks encountered "less favorable treatment" than their white counterparts in 57.5 percent of those tests.

In one example, an agent told the black tester who responded to an apartment ad on Jan. 22 that only one unit was available, and not until February. The same agent told the white tester later that day that two units would available Feb. 1 and mentioned two other units.

A woman reached at a number for the New Orleans Landlords Association declined to comment publicly Tuesday evening. No one could be immediately reached at the Apartment Association of Greater New Orleans and the New Orleans Real Estate Investor's Association.

James Perry, the center's executive director, said the group intends to sue several of the landlords.

"At a time when people need housing desperately, we really can't stand to have discrimination occurring," Perry said.