Mississippi Real Estate Groups Settle Race Discrimination Complaint

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) recently settled a fair housing complaint against real estate agents and their companies in Jackson, Miss., accusing them of racial discrimination against potential homebuyers.

Following allegations of housing discrimination from African Americans in Jackson, NFHA launched an investigation of how whites and blacks were treated when inquiring about purchasing homes. Allegedly, the testing revealed that when white potential homebuyers sought housing in integrated and predominantly African-American neighborhoods, they were steered away and instead provided with information and assistance to help them buy a home in a predominantly white area. Meanwhile, the NFHA alleged that testers posing as African-American homebuyers often never even received a call back from an agent after leaving messages about purchasing a specific home in Jackson. Based on the results of its testing, the NFHA filed a discrimination complaint HUD against the agents and companies.

Under the settlement, the real estate groups agreed to pay $46,000 to NFHA, participate in fair housing trainings, and promote fair housing in the communities where it does business. The settlement agreement will be monitored by HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity.

NFHA says the differences in treatment uncovered in its investigation show how whites and blacks are steered to different housing opportunities based on the racial composition of a neighborhood. “Steering intentionally perpetuates residential segregation and is illegal under the Fair Housing Act,” Shanna L. Smith, NFHA’s President and CEO, said in a statement. “This is why it is imperative that real estate companies work to expand equal housing opportunities for everyone. When people choose where they want to live without artificial and illegal barriers, our communities and neighborhoods are stronger.”