NFHA Trends Report: 'The Case for Fair Housing'

The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) recently released its 2017 Fair Housing Trends Report: The Case for Fair Housing. Every year, NFHA collects data on housing discrimination complaints and reports on key housing issues across the United States in the prior year. This year, the NFHA says the 2017 report is more expansive, given an increased need to bring attention to the importance of the Fair Housing Act and the work that remains to be done to advance housing equity.

“We are one year away from commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Fair Housing Act, which was passed just seven days after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April, 1968. Some advances have been made in opening up neighborhoods to everyone; however, people of color, persons with disabilities, and other marginalized groups continue to be unlawfully shut out of many neighborhoods that provide quality schools and health care, fresh food, employment opportunities, quality and affordable credit, small business investment, and other opportunities that affect life outcomes. That is why we felt compelled to make the Case for Fair Housing in this comprehensive report,” Shanna Smith, President and CEO of NFHA, said in a statement.

The 2017 Trends Report includes 2016 discrimination complaint data compiled from private, nonprofit fair housing organizations, as well as federal and state governmental entities responsible for enforcing the Fair Housing Act. It also chronicles the development of residential segregation in the United States and the adverse costs of segregation to individuals, communities, and the nation.

Key facts from the report:

  • There were 28,181 complaints of housing discrimination in 2016.
  • Discrimination based on disability accounted for 55 percent of all complaints.
  • Race-based housing discrimination accounted for nearly 20 percent of housing discrimination complaints.
  • Only a fraction of racial, ethnic, and religious discrimination in housing is reported, because research shows most people do not report suspected discriminatory treatment.
  • It is estimated that more than four million instances of housing discrimination occur annually.

Notable in 2016 was an increase in housing-related hate activity. Since the fall of 2016, NFHA says there has been an uptick of hate crimes involving people who were harassed in their neighborhoods or at their apartments, university dormitories, or homes.

The Trends Report also highlights the emerging battle to combat fair housing violations on shared housing and social media platforms. Companies like Airbnb and Facebook have proactively made changes to their sites in an effort to comply with fair housing laws, but there are continued concerns about the potential for discrimination on similar platforms.