Following on the heels of a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) study that indicates minorities experience discrimination in housing, a new HUD study says same-sex couples do, as well.
This was the first national study of its kind, and focused on rental housing advertised online. The results show that gay and lesbian couples were less likely than heterosexual couples to receive favorable email responses to their rental inquiries.
While federal housing discrimination laws do prohibit discrimination against people on the basis of gender and family status, they do not specifically protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. However, 20 states and the District of Columbia do have laws on the books that prohibit discrimination against people who identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender.
In the HUD study, same-sex couples received “significantly fewer responses” to emails asking about advertised rental units than hetero couples. Male couples experienced more discrimination than lesbian couples. Surprisingly, those couples in states banning such discrimination received somewhat worse treatment.
The study consisted of 7,000 test emails sent to rental housing providers in 50 metropolitan areas between June and October 2011. Researchers sent two emails to inquire about each rental unit. The emails were identical, except one was from a same-sex couple and the other from a heterosexual couple.
“Unfavorable treatment” included responses that the unit was not available, or when the recipient was not asked to contact the landlord or invited to see the apartment, or received no response at all.
HUD-funded and HUD-insured housing providers and Federal Housing Administration-approved lenders are required to provide equal access to housing without regard to sexual orientation, gender identity or marital status.