“But you don’t want to go there. It’s a mixed neighborhood,” and “I’m not going to send you anything in Wyandanch unless you don’t want to start your car to buy your crack,” were just some of the statements made by real estate agents to home seekers during Newsday’s three-year investigation on housing discrimination on Long Island.
The investigation revealed what many minorities have felt, but weren’t 100 percent sure of, which is they were being treated unequally during the house hunting process.
A 40-minute documentary showed the steps taken by Newsday to gather data. Testers. who were normal Long Island residents, were sent to 93 Realestate agents from the 12 largest companies that handle nearly half of Long Island’s real estate. Out of all the testers, 10 were white and 15 were minorities. There were 86 successfully unbiased tests conducted.
Asians were 19 percent more likely to receive unequal treatment by real estate agents. For Hispanics, it was nearly 40 percent and for African-Americans, it was 49 percent. Minorities were received fewer house listings and were “steered” away from predominantly white neighborhoods and towards more diverse neighborhoods.
Real estate agents also informed white home seekers of gang activity and failing schools in areas such as Freeport, Brentwood or Wyandanch, but would encourage minorities to move to those areas and would not bring up the same information.
The Urban League, in New York City and Long Island, has called for the attorney general to investigate Long Island real estate agencies and that call was quickly answered. New York Attorney General Letitia James and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have ordered investigations into the matter. During a news conference, Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said there will be a four-point plan put in place. The $200,000 plan encompasses hiring an agency to test for housing discrimination, strengthening the county Human Rights Commission, raising awareness about fair housing law and working with lawmakers to ensure better training for real estate agents.
Check out a teaser of the full documentary below: