51 Harv. C.R.-C.L. L. Rev. 115 (2016)
Discrimination in Evictions: Empirical Evidence and Legal Challenges

handle is hein.journals/hcrcl51 and id is 119 raw text is: 






                  Discrimination in Evictions:

     Empirical Evidence and Legal Challenges*




  Deena Greenberg, ** Carl Gershenson, *** and Matthew Desmond****


           Tens of thousands of housing discrimination complaints are filed each year.
      Although there has been extensive study of discrimination in the rental market,
      discrimination in evictions has been largely overlooked. This is because deter-
      mining whether discrimination exists in evictions presents several challenges.
      Not only do landlords typically have a non-discriminatory reason for evictions
      (e.g., nonpayment), but they also wield tremendous discretion over eviction deci-
      sions-discretion that can be informed by conscious or unconscious bias
      against a protected group. Detecting discrimination in evictions, moreover,
      poses a number of challenges that conventional methods of assessing housing
      discrimination are ill-suited to address. This Article is among the first to empiri-
      cally investigate racial and ethnic discrimination in eviction decisions. It does
      so by drawing on the Milwaukee Area Renters Study, a novel observational
      study of 1,086 rental households. Statistical analyses reveal that among tenants
      at risk of eviction, Hispanic tenants in predominantly white neighborhoods were
      roughly twice as likely to be evicted as those in predominantly non-white neigh-
      borhoods. Hispanic tenants were also more likely to get evicted when they had a
      non-Hispanic landlord. This Article discusses possible explanations for these
      findings and evaluates legal and policy solutions for addressing discrimination
      in the eviction process.


                                  INTRODUCTION

     Every year, tens of thousands of housing discrimination complaints are
filed.' Between 2004 and 2014, more than 300,000 housing discrimination
complaints were reported to non-profit fair housing organizations and gov-



   * Parts of this Article draw on independent research and writing completed between
January and May 2015. Research was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur
Foundation, through its How Housing Matters initiative. The authors wish to thank Monica
Bell, David Harris, and Professors Esme Caramello, Richard Fallon, D. James Greiner, and Jon
Hanson for their helpful conversations and suggestions; April Hartman for sharing valuable
insight and information; Torie Atkinson, Tsuki Hoshijima, Kellie Macdonald, Andrea
Matthews, and Pattie Whiting for their support, ideas, and feedback; and the editors of the
Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review for their guidance, substantive comments,
and editing throughout the process.
   ** J.D., Harvard Law School, 2015.
   *** Ph.D. candidate in Sociology, Harvard University.
   **** John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences, Harvard University.
   'NATL FAIR HOUSING ALLIANCE, WHERE You LIvE MATTERS: 2015 FAIR HOUSING
TRENDs REPORT 17 (2015), available at http://www.nationalfairhousing.org/Portals/33/2015-
04-30%20NFHA%20Trends%20Report%202015.pdf, archived at https://perma.cc/T6Y4-
LZXX. These complaints include discrimination in rental housing, real estate sales, mort-
gage lending, homeowners insurance, advertisements, zoning and land use ordinances, and
harassment in any type of housing. Id. at 16.

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