METROFOCUS SPECIAL: NEWSDAY INVESTIGATION: “LONG ISLAND DIVIDED”

Newsday went undercover and revealed evidence of some real estate agents treating prospective minority homebuyers differently than their white counterparts. Tonight, we’ll look at the three-year hidden camera investigation that shows agents sending African American, Hispanic and Asian potential buyers away from white neighborhoods.

Aired on December 12, 2019. 

TRANSCRIPT

> TONIGHT ON 'METROFOCUS' -- HOUSING DISCRIMINATION ON LONG ISLAND.

'NEWSDAY' WENT UNDERCOVER AND REVEALED SHOCKING EVIDENCE OF SOME REAL ESTATE AGENTS TREATING PROSPECTIVE MINORITY HOME BUYERS DIFFERENTLY THAN THEIR WHITE COUNTERPARTS.

I HAVE TO SAY IT WITHOUT SAYING IT.

YOU HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE AREA.

YEAH.

I'M USING THE WORD --

ABSOLUTELY.

WE'LL LOOK AT THE THREE-YEAR HIDDEN CAMERA INVESTIGATION THAT SHOWS AGENTS SENDING AFRICAN-AMERICAN, HISPANIC, AND ASIAN POTENTIAL HOME BUYERS AWAY FROM WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS.

THIS SPECIAL REPORT ON DISCRIMINATION IN REAL ESTATE AS 'METROFOCUS' STARTS RIGHT NOW.

THIS IS 'METROFOCUS,' WITH RAFAEL P. ROMAN, JACK FORD, AND JENNA FLANIGAN.

'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERYL TISCH.

SUE AND EDWARD WALKENHEIM III.

THE SYLVIA A. ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMITISM.

BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ.

BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG.

AND BY.

GOOD EVENING AND WELCOME TO 'METROFOCUS.'

I'M RAFAEL P. ROMAN.

TONIGHT HOUSING DISCRIMINATION IN LONG ISLAND.

A THREE-YEAR INVESTIGATION BY 'NEWSDAY' HAS PUT A SPOTLIGHT ON THE WIDESPREAD SEPARATE AND UNEQUAL TREATMENT OF POTENTIAL HOME BUYERS BY REAL ESTATE BROKERS ON THE ISLAND, A CLEAR VIOLATION OF FEDERAL FAIR HOUSING LAWS.

THE EXPLOSIVE INVESTIGATION USED HIDDEN CAMERAS TO TEST WHETHER WHITE, BLACK, HISPANIC AND ASIAN HOME BUYERS WERE TREATED DIFFERENTLY DESPITE HAVING NEARLY IDENTICAL QUALIFICATIONS.

THE FINDINGS WERE REVEALING.

THEY SHOWED AMONG OTHER THINGS EVIDENCE THAT AGENTS ROUTINELY STEERED MINORITIES AWAY FROM MOSTLY WHITE NEIGHBORHOODS AND DISCRIMINATED AGAINST BLACKS ABOUT 50% OF THE TIME.

IN A MOMENT WE'LL BE JOINED BY THE EDITOR OF THE 'NEWSDAY' PROJECT.

BUT FIRST HERE'S A LOOK AT PART OF THAT REPORT, INCLUDING THE HIDDEN CAMERA RECORDINGS THAT FORMED THE BASIS OF 'NEWSDAY'S' FINDINGS.

YEAH.

YEAH.

TODAY'S THE 21st OF APRIL.

IT'S ABOUT 10 AFTER 2:00 AND I'M IN MY CAR.

RICHARD HOWLING TESTING WITH BROWNING ON MAY 3rd.

HELLO.

MY NAME IS --

THEY'RE ORDINARY LONG ISLANDERS.

SENT IN TO MEET WITH REAL ESTATE AGENTS TO ASK ABOUT BUYING THEIR FIRST HOME.

THEY WERE TRAINED, CONFIDENT, AND FOLLOWED SCRIPTS.

NICHOLAS PARISI.

THEY HAD NO IDEA WHAT HOUSES AGENTS WOULD SUGGEST OR EVEN WHICH COMMUNITIES.

IT'S A MIXED NEIGHBORHOOD.

MIXED NEIGHBORHOOD?

IF AGENTS ARE COURTEOUS AND PROFESSIONAL HOW CAN YOU KNOW IF THEY'RE TREATING YOU EQUALLY WITH SOMEONE OF A DIFFERENT RACE OR ETHNICITY?

I HAVE TO SAY IT WITHOUT SAYING IT.

BEHIND SMILES AND HANDSHAKES HOW DO YOU KNOW IF THEY'RE GIVING YOU FEWER OPTIONS OR SUGGESTING DIFFERENT AREAS?

WHAT IF RULES DON'T APPLY TO YOU AND ANOTHER HOME BUYER IN THE SAME WAY?

LONG ISLAND IS ONE OF AMERICA'S MOST SEGREGATED SUBURBS.

'NEWSDAY' SET OUT TO DISCOVER WHAT ROLE REAL ESTATE AGENTS MIGHT PLAY IN KEEPING IT THAT WAY, POTENTIALLY AFFECTING THE QUALITY OF LIVES.

IN HOUSE HUNTING IT'S NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO SEE EVIDENCE OF HIDDEN DISCRIMINATION.

YOU WOULD NEVER KNOW.

UNLESS YOU GO UNDERCOVER.

IN ONE TEST JOHNNY MAY ALSTON WAS THE BLACK TESTER AND CINDY PERRY WAS THE WHIES TE TESTER A THEY MET WITH AN AGENT IN COLD SPRING HAHARBOR.

AS OFTEN HAPPENS THE AGENT DISCUSSED GETTING PREQUALIFIED OR PREAPPROVED FOR A MORTGAGE BY A BANK TO FIND OUT HOW MUCH A BUYER CAN SPEND ON A HOUSE.

YOU KNOW ABOUT GETTING PREAPPROVED.

NEITHER HAD BEEN PREAPPROVED OR PREQUALIFIED.

HERE'S WHAT THE AGENT TOLD THE BLACK TESTER.

YOU NEED TO PREQUALIFY FOR A MORTGAGE.

WE CAN'T GO OUT TO SEE ANYTHING.

YOU CAN TRY ANOTHER PERSON BUT I DON'T HAVE THE TIME.

WITHOUT PREAPPROVAL HERE'S WHAT THE AGENT TOLD THE WHITE TESTER.

WHAT IS YOUR AVAILABILITY?

I'LL SAY NOT THIS COMING WEEK --

CINDY RECEIVED 79 LISTINGS FROM THIS AGENT.

JOHNNY MAY COULDN'T GET ANY LISTINGS.

AND CINDY, THE WHITE TESTER, RECEIVED TWO HOME TOURS.

THEY HAD THE SAME FINANCES, THE SAME BUDGET, AND THEY MADE THE SAME REQUEST IN THE SAME AREA.

BUT ONE WAS WHITE, THE OTHER WAS BLACK.

THE AGENT TREATED THEM DIFFERENTLY.

SHE DID NOT RESPOND TO A LETTER, CALLS, OR E-MAILS.

HER AGENCY'S MANAGER VIEWED THE RECORDINGS AND DECLINED TO COMMENT.

A THREE-YEAR UNDERCOVER 'NEWSDAY' INVESTIGATION REVEALED EVIDENCE OF WIDESPREAD HIDDEN DISCRIMINATION BY REAL ESTATE AGENTS BROKERING HOME SALES ACROSS LONG ISLAND.

FOR HISPANIC HOME SEEKERS EVIDENCE OF UNFAIR TREATMENT EMERGED 39% OF THE TIME.

FOR ASIANS THE RATE WAS 19%. BLACK HOUSE HUNTERS IN THE INVESTIGATION RISKED UNEQUAL, LESSER ACCESS TO HOMES AND COMMUNITIES JUST ABOUT HALF THE TIME WHEN COMPARED TO WHITE BUYERS.

KELVIN TOON IS A BLACK MAN IN HIS EARLY 50s AND HE WENT IN TO MEET WITH AN AGENT INVOLVING A TEST IN THE BRENTWOOD COMMUNITY, A COMMUNITY THAT IS 80% HISPANIC AND BLACK.

THE AGENT COMMUNICATED TO KELVIN OUR BLACK TESTER THAT SHE ENJOYED MEETING WITH CLIENTS FROM THE BRENTWOOD AREA.

ANYTIME I GET A REFERRAL IN BRENTWOOD OR ANOTHER CLIENT I GET SO EXCITED BECAUSE THEY'RE NICE PEOPLE.

WHEN WE SENT KELVIN'S COUNTERPART IN TO MEET WITH THE SAME AGENT, THE WHITE TESTER WAS ACTUALLY WARNED ABOUT BRENTWOOD NOT BEING A NICE PLACE.

THE NURSING HOME WE NEED TO BE NEAR IS NEAR -- IS IN BRENTWOOD.

OKAY.

SO WE FOUND A COUPLE THAT ARE IN BRENTWOOD.

CLOSE TO THERE.

OKAY.

IT SEEMED THOSE WOULD BE HANDY TO GO VISIT.UE TO ME AND I CAN --

YEAH, I CAN DO THAT.

THE WARNING CAME FROM THE WHITE TESTER SAYING THERE WAS CONCERN ABOUT GANG ACTIVITY GOING ON IN BRENTWOOD.

THIS AGENT WANTED THE WHITE TESTER TO KNOW WHY THAT INFORMATION WASN'T PROVIDED TO KELVIN, THE BLACK TESTER.

AGENT CENTERED BLACK TESTER KELVIN ON BRENTWOOD IN 27 HOUSE LISTINGS.

WHILE THE WHITE TESTER GOTZERO LISTINGS IN BRENTWOOD AND WAS DIRECTED TOWARD A DIFFERENT NEIGHBORHOOD.

SHE DECLINED TO COMMENT.

KELLER WILLIAMS WHICH WAS HER EMPLOYER AT THE TIME RELEASED THIS STATEMENT.

'KELLER WILLIAMS DOES NOT TOLERATE DISCRIMINATION OF ANY KIND.

ALL COMPLAINTS OF LESS THAN EXEMPLARY CONDUCT ARE ADDRESSED AND RESOLVED.'

'NEWSDAY' CONDUCTED TESTS WITH WHITE AND HISPANICS AND ASIAN BUYERS.

12 AGENTS THAT REPRESENTED HALF OF THE ISLAND'S HOME SELLERS IN 2017.

THE PRIMARY QUESTION WAS WHETHER THE AGENTS PROVIDED EQUAL SERVICE.

WAS ONE TESTER PROVIDED MORE LISTINGS THAN THE OTHER?

ALSO, WHERE WERE THOSE LISTINGS PLACED?

DID THE AGENT RECOMMEND SIMILAR NEIGHBORHOODS TO BOTH TESTERS?

HERE IN TEST 567 THE AGENT FREDERICK WALLENMEYER PROVIDED THE TESTERS WITH COMPARABLE LISTINGS.

IN MY EYES YOU'RE A BUYER YOU'RE A BUYER.

I WANTED TO GIVE THE POTENTIAL BUYER A MORE DIVERSE LOOK AND BACKGROUND ON THE HAMPTONS AND WHAT THEY LIKE.

THE SAME TWO TESTERS FROM NUMBER 56 MET WITH A DIFFERENT AGENT IN TEST 59 AND DESPITE ASKING FOR THE SAME PARAMETERS THEY RECEIVED DISPARATE LISTINGS.

THEY REALLY --

IN AN E-MAIL HE DESCRIBED HIS STATEMENT ABOUT THE HISPANIC COMMUNITY AS OUT OF CONTEXT, ADDING 'I APOLOGIZE FOR THE REMARK AND I LOOK FORWARD TO CONTINUALLY IMPROVING IN ORDER TO SERVE ALL OF MY CLIENTS WITH RESPECT.'

HE ADDED THE STATEMENT 'DOES NOT REPRESENT WHO I AM AS A PERSON AND DOES NOT REFLECT MY PROFESSIONAL COMMITMENT TO TREAT EVERYONE, CLIENTS, FAMILY, AND FRIENDS, EQUALLY.'

AS PERMITTED BY LAW, 'NEWSDAY' RECORDED ALL MEETINGS BETWEEN TESTERS AND AGENTS AND THEN TRANSCRIBED THE RECORDINGS.

HERE AN AGENT GIVES CONFLICTING ADVICE ABOUT FREEPORT.

I LIKE FREEPORT.

MATCHING THOSE TESTS, MAPPING THE LI THE LISTINGS AND RELYING ON THE JUDGMENT OF FAIR HOUSING EXPERTS, YOU START TO GET A PICTURE OF WHETHER AN AGENT OR MORE IMPORTANTLY AGENTS AT LARGE ACROSS LONG ISLAND ENGAGED IN DIFFERENT TREATMENT OF TESTERS.

YOU DON'T WANT TO GO THERE.

IT'S A MIXED NEIGHBORHOOD.

YOU'D BE MORE COMFORTABLE IN A CERTAIN --

TWO SCHOOL DISTRICTS.

BRENTWOOD AND BAYSHORE.

YOU DON'T WANT TO HAVE BRENTWOOD SCHOOL DISTRICT.

YOU WANT TO HAVE BAYSHORE SCHOOL DISTRICT.

I CAN'T SAY ANYTHING.

GO TO --

NO, THAT'S GREAT.

I HAVE TO SAY IT WITHOUT SAYING IT.

YOU KNOW, YOU HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE AREAS.

ABSOLUTELY.

IF YOU'RE NOT GETTING THE SAME INFORMATION, SOMETHING IS DEFINITELY WRONG.

HOW DO YOU PROVE THAT IN THE HEART OF THIS AGENT OR IN THE MIND OF THIS AGENT THEY DID STEER YOU SOMEPLACE?

YOU'RE JUST AT THE MERCY OF THE REALTOR TO DO THE RIGHT THING.

AND WE'RE PROVING IT.

UNLESS THEY'RE TESTERS.

CAN I SPEAK TO AN AGENT ABOUT PURCHASING A HOME?

I CAN HELP YOU.

GREAT.

NEW YORK IS A ONE PARTY STATE, WHICH MEANS ONLY ONE PARTY TO A CONVERSATION HAS TO CONSENT TO A RECORDING.

SO MEN HAD BODY CAMS AFFIXED TO THEIR CHEST.

IT WAS A BUTTONHOLE CAMERA.

WOMEN USED CAMERAS HIDDEN IN THEIR PURSES.

THAT ALLOW US TO RECORD AS EVIDENCE WHAT TRANSPIRED BETWEEN THE TESTERS AND THE AGENTS.

THE TESTER WOULD HAVE TO MEMORIZE THE DETAILS OF THE PROFILE.

WHAT WAS YOUR NAME AGAIN?

PATRICK.

ARE YOU PREQUALIFIED?

NOT YET.

THAT'S A TOUGH ONE.

WE'RE BOTH NEW.

HOW DID YOU HEAR ABOUT US?

WE'RE CLOSE TO THE CITY.

WHAT'S YOUR TESTER NAME, WHAT'S YOUR AGE, HOW MUCH MONEY DO YOU HAVE IN THE BANK, WHAT'S YOUR CREDIT SCORE, HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WORKING AT YOUR EMPLOYER, WHAT'S YOUR WIFE'S OCCUPATION, WHAT'S YOUR CHILD'S NAME, ALL TO BUILD THEIR CONFIDENCE SO WHEN THEY HIT THE STREET WE WERE READY TO GO OUT WITH THE RECORDING EQUIPMENT, THEY WERE READY TO PLAY THAT ROLE.

WHILE THE TESTERS WERE A DIVERSE GROUP OF PEOPLE, WHITE, BLACK, HISPANIC, AND ASIAN, THEY RANGE FROM A 20-YEAR-OLD COLLEGE STUDENT TO 60, PRO BONO ATTORNEY.

WE DID MAKE USE OF A SIGNIFICANT NUMBER OF ACTORS.

THE THINGS ACTORS DO FOR WORK.

WHEN THE TESTER MEETS WITH THE AGENT, THEY'RE BASICALLY SAYING IN BROAD TERMS WHAT THEIR HOUSING SEARCH IS.

I JUST NEEDED TO GET TO PENN STATION WITHIN AN HOUR.

WHEN YOU SEND IN A TESTER, THEY HAVE NO IDEA WHAT'S HAPPENING ON THE OTHER HALF OF THE TEST OR WHAT THEIR COUNTERPART EXPERIENCED WHEN THEY WENT TO THE SAME AGENT AT THE SAME AGENCY.

IT WAS REALLY UNIQUE AND INTERESTING FOR US TO BRING THE TESTERS TOGETHER AND TELL THEM WHAT HAPPENED.

IT'S DEFINITELY DIFFERENT.

I SEE IT MORE VISUALLY.

IT MAKES ME FEEL BAD THAT THIS IS A PERSON WHO'S A GATEKEEPER P.

I MEAN, SHE'S TELLING HIM THESE ARE SOME OF THE NICEST CLIENTS I'VE EVER WORKED WITH, ET CETERA, ET CETERA.

STEERED ME AWAY FROM THAT.

AND NOT ONLY THAT IN THE LISTINGS SHE SENT ME BUT ALSO IN TELLING ME THAT ABOUT THE GANG VIOLENCE.

SHE PUT ME INTO A DANGEROUS ENVIRONMENT.

I FEEL LIKE THE AGENT JUST DIDN'T CARE ABOUT ME.

SO I DON'T COME BACK UNTIL YOU GET BACK HERE.

SHE COULDN'T EVEN TAKE ME OUT UNTIL I GOT APPROVAL.

OH, WAS I LIED TO?

I WAS LIED TO.

WALKED OVER.

I'M STARTING TO WONDER IF MAYBE THEY'RE DOING THAT BECAUSE THEY THINK THAT'S WHERE YOU FEEL COMFORTABLE.

I THOUGHT IT WAS ALL ABOUT MONEY, TO BE HONEST, THAT'S THE WAY THE WORLD WORKS.

THIS COUNTRY IS BASED ON MONEY.

IF I COME TO YOU WAY CERTAIN AMOUNT OF MONEY TO GET A HOUSE, WE HAVE THE SAME AMOUNT OF MONEY, WHY NOT?

I DIDN'T EXPECT YOU GO THERE BECAUSE YOU'RE SPANISH AND YOU GO THERE BECAUSE YOU'RE WHITE.

I DIDN'T EXPECT THAT AT ALL.

TO DETERMINE WHETHER THERE WAS POTENTIAL EVIDENCE OF FAIR HOUSING VIOLATIONS, WE RELIED ON THE JUDGMENT OF TWO NATIONALLY RECOGNIZED EXPERTS IN THE FAIR HOUSING FIELD.

I'VE COORDINATED MORE THAN 12,000 INVESTIGATIONS ACROSS THE COUNTRY.

I HAVE PERSONALLY DONE OVER 1,500 TESTS.

I'VE BEEN NAMED AS A WITNESS IN 400 FAIR HOUSING LAWSUITS.

AND I'VE TESTIFIED 56 TIMES IN STATE AND FEDERAL COURTS AROUND THE COUNTRY.

SO YES, I HAVE SOME EXPERIENCE.

MY NAME IS BOB SCHRIM.

I'M A LAW PROFESSOR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF KENTUCKY AND I'VE BEEN A LAW PROFESSOR FOR A LONG NUMBER OF YEARS.

ALL WE'RE ASKING IN THESE TESTS, YOU GET TWO PEOPLE WHO COME IN AND ASK FOR EXACTLY THE SAME THING.

WHY DON'T YOU GIVE THEM THE SAME LISTING?

WHY DON'T YOU PREQUALIFY THEM IN EXACTLY THE SAME WAY?

IT'S NOT THAT BIG A BURDEN.

MOST COMMONLY THE EXPERTS FOUND EVIDENCE OF POTENTIAL STEERING OR DIRECTING TWO TESTERS TO DISPARATE NEIGHBORHOODS BASED ON RACE OR ETHNICITY.

HOW ARE YOU DOING?

GOOD.

I'VE BEEN WAITING FOR THE OWNER AND WAITING FOR THE AGENT TO SHOW UP.

YOU DON'T WANT TO BE -- I DON'T THINK YOU SHOULD BE -- I THINK YOU SHOULD PROBABLY JUST --

AND I REMEMBER SPECIFICALLY HE TALKED ABOUT STEERING.

YEAH, THAT'S WHAT HE SAID.

STEERING.

YEAH.

AND IN THE SAME BREATH HE MENTIONED, WELL, STEERING'S BAD, BUT THIS IS WHAT I'M GOING TO DO.

THERE'S SOMETHING CALLED STEERING.

YOU KNOW STEERING, LIKE STEERING --

OH, LIKE A CAR OR SOMETHING?

NO, LIKE A HORSE.

IN TEST 78 EXPERTS SAW EVIDENCE BOTH OF STEERING AND OF THE DENIAL OF EQUAL SERVICE.

THAT AGENT DECLINED TO VIEW RECORDINGS AS INVITED BY 'NEWSDAY,' AND THE OWNER OF -- DID NOT RESPOND TO MULTIPLE REQUESTS FOR COMMENT.

STEERING IS A PRACTICE WHERE REAL ESTATE AGENTS OR OTHERS ESSENTIALLY DISCOURAGE PEOPLE FROM CONSIDERING CERTAIN HOUSING OPPORTUNITIES OR NEIGHBORHOODS BASED UPON THEIR RACE OR NATIONAL ORIGIN OR SOME OTHER FACTOR.

AND IT PERPETUATES SEGREGATION.

AND THIS PRACTICE HAS BEEN ILLEGAL SINCE THE FAIR HOUSING LAWS WERE PASSED.

AGENTS CAN STEER THROUGH WORDS.

IT CAN BE DONE THROUGH ACTIONS.

WITHOUT THE PROSPECTS KNOWING IT, I'M JUST GIVING THE WHITE PROSPECT LISTINGS IN A WHITE AREA.

IT'S REALLY AMAZING HOW PEOPLE CAN REALLY EXPRESS TO A REALTOR WHAT THEY DESIRE AND YET THEY STILL GET TAKEN TO WHERE THE REALTOR DESIRES TO TAKE THEM.

IN REALTOR 101 YOU DO LEARN IT'S AGAINST THE LAW TO STEER.

STEERING HAS DEVASTATING CONSEQUENCES.

FOR THE CONSUMER IT LIMITS THEIR HOUSING CHOICE TO CERTAIN AREAS.

IT LOCKS PEOPLE OUT OF COMMUNITIES.

IT CAN DENY PEOPLE OF ALL RACES THE OPPORTUNITY TO ENJOY THE SOCIAL, PROFESSIONAL, AND PERSONAL BENEFITS OF LIVING IN AN INTEGRATED COMMUNITY.

AND IT SENDS A DISGRACEFUL MESSAGE TO AFRICAN-AMERICAN PEOPLE THAT THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY, OR AT LEAST SOME WITHIN THE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY STILL VIEW THEM AS LESS WORTHY.

AND WITH US NOW IS THE EDITOR OF 'NEWSDAY'S' SPECIAL INVESTIGATION, LONG ISLAND DIVIDED, VETERAN NEW YORK JOURNALISTING ARTHUR BROWNE.

ARTHUR, WELCOME BACK TO THE PROGRAM.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

ARTHUR, THIS WAS A THREE-YEARLONG INVESTIGATION AND UNFORTUNATELY A CONFIRMATION OF A PROBLEM THAT HAS APPARENTLY LONG EXISTED ON LONG ISLAND.

SO MY FIRST QUESTION IS WHY HASN'T AN INVESTIGATION LIKE THIS BEEN DONE BEFORE?

WELL, IT TAKES A LOT OF TIME AND A LOT OF EFFORT TO DO IT.

AND PUBLIC AGENCIES, THE GOVERNMENT, HAS NOT FUNDED THE TYPE OF RESEARCH OR INVESTIGATIONS THAT ARE NECESSARY TO UNCOVER DISCRIMINATION BY REAL ESTATE AGENTS.

IT JUST HAS NOT BEEN FULLY FUNDED.

TELL US WHAT YOU THINK WERE THE MOST STRIKING OR THE MOST SURPRISING FINDINGS THAT THESE TESTS REVEALED.

WELL, THERE'S A NUMBER OF THEM.

ONE IS THE EXTENT TO WHICH THERE APPEARED TO HAVE BEEN EVIDENCE OF DISPARATE TREATMENT OF MINORITIES.

WHEN YOU HAVE A CIRCUMSTANCE WHERE IN OUR TEST, OUR TESTING SAMPLE, AFRICAN-AMERICANS EXPERIENCED EVIDENCE OF DISPARATE TREATMENT ALMOST HALF THE TIME THAT THEY MET WITH THE REAL ESTATE AGENTS, IT'S A QUITE HIGH NUMBER I THINK.

AND IT SIGNALS THAT THERE MAY BE A GREAT RISK TO AFRICAN-AMERICANS IN THE HOME BUYING MARKET ON LONG ISLAND THAT THEY MAY NOT BE TREATED FAIRLY.

SO THE EXTENT OF THAT NUMERICALLY, FOR HISPANICS IT WAS 39%. FOR ASIANS IT WAS 19%. THOSE ARE NOT NUMBERS TO MINIMIZE.

THOSE TWO ARE SERIOUS NUMBERS.

AT THE SAME TIME SOME OF THE AGENTS DISPLAYED BEHAVIOR THAT WAS QUITE STARK.

THE DOCUMENTARY, WHICH WAS DONE BY A TERRIFIC VIDEOGRAPHER NAMED JEFF BASINGER, CAPTURED SOME OF IT, WHERE AN AGENT WOULD TELL A WHITE BUYER THAT THEY SHOULD NOT LIVE IN A PARTICULAR AREA BECAUSE OF GANG VIOLENCE BUT WOULD TELL THE BLACK BUYER THAT --

THAT'S A GREAT PLACE FOR THEM.

YEAH, THAT'S A GREAT PLACE FOR THEM.

SO SOME OF THOSE DIFFERENCES WERE VERY STARK.

YOU SAID AT THE OUTSET THAT THE STATE HASN'T CONDUCTED INVESTIGATIONS LIKE THESE, THAT THE LAW ENFORCE -- THE ENFORCERS OF THE FAIR HOUSING LAWS APPARENTLY ARE NOT DOING THIS.

FIRST OF ALL, WHO ARE THE ENFORCERS OF THESE LAWS AND WHY AREN'T THEY DOING THIS?

WELL, THEY WENT ALL THE WAY FROM THE FEDERAL TO THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT THROUGH THE STATE.

THERE IS NO QUESTION THAT THE LAW IS CLEAR AND THAT THE LAW PROVIDES ENFORCEMENT AUTHORITIES WITH THE POWER TO TAKE ON DISCRIMINATION.

BUT PAIRED TESTING IS DIFFICULT, AS I SAID, AND TIME-CONSUMING.

AND YOU KNOW, YOU COULD THEORIZE THAT SINCE NOBODY WAS DOING IT TO ANY GREAT DEGREE IT WAS KIND OF ACCEPTED THAT THERE WAS --

WHEN YOU SAY NOBODY WAS DOING IT, PAIRED TESTING, RIGHT?

I THINK ONE OF THE IMPORTANT OUTCOMES OF THE 'NEWSDAY' INVESTIGATION WAS THAT THERE WAS EVIDENCE OF HIDDEN DISCRIMINATION TAKING PLACE ON A DAY-BY-DAY BASIS THAT WAS GOING UNSEEN BECAUSE IF I A WHITE PERSON GO TO BUY A HOUSE AND A BLACK PERSON GOES TO BUY A HOUSE, NEITHER ONE OF US WILL KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO THE OTHER PERSON.

ALL THE MORE REASON WHY THOSE PEOPLE IN CHARGE OF ENFORCING THESE LAWS NEEDED TO DO WHAT YOU DID WITH YOUR OWN --

IT WAS NOT -- IT WAS EXPENSIVE AND TIME-CONSUMING.

I MEAN, IT WAS REALLY A DETAILED EFFORT, AMAZING EFFORT.

BUT YOU KNOW, ABOUT ENFORCEMENT, ONE SPECIFIC AREA.

ON THE FILM WE SEE -- IN THE FILM WE SEE A GUY, A BROKER HIMSELF WHO'S RESPONSIBLE FOR TEACHING OTHER BROKERS THE FAIR HOUSING LAWS, HOW TO ALLEGEDLY OR THEORETICALLY, HOW TO FOLLOW THE FAIR HOUSING LAWS, AND HE SAYS AT ONE POINT, LOOK, SELLERS ARE TELLING AGENTS, BROKERS ALL THE TIME THAT THEY DON'T WANT THEIR HOUSE BEING SOLD TO A CERTAIN GROUP OF PEOPLE.

THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT ANY LESS ILLEGAL.

CORRECT.

BUT THE FACT OF THE MATTER IS AN AGENT KNOWS THAT IF HE OR SHE TURNS DOWN THIS JOB SOME OTHER AGENT IS GOING TO COME RIGHT BEHIND THEM AND PROBABLY PICK UP THE JOB.

SO WHAT ARE THE AGENCIES -- I MEAN WHAT ARE THE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES HAVE TO DO TO ELIMINATE THIS NEGATIVE DISCRIMINATION ENFORCER?

WELL, AGENTS DID SAY THAT.

SOME AGENTS DID SUGGEST THAT THEY WERE BEING FORCED TO STEER, IF YOU WILL, BY THEIR CLIENTS.

NOW, IF THAT'S THE CASE, THAT IS PURELY ATTITUDINAL BY THE BUYERS AND I DON'T KNOW THAT GOVERNMENT ENFORCEMENT COULD DEAL WITH THAT AT ALL.

THAT'S A MINDSET CHANGE.

THE -- WHAT GOVERNMENT CAN DO IS SIMPLY ENFORCE THE LAWS THAT WOULD PREVENT A REAL ESTATE AGENT FROM SUCCUMBING TO THAT TYPE OF PRESSURE.

IF THEY KNEW THAT THERE WERE WATCHDOGS OUT THERE WATCHING OVER WHAT THEY WERE DOING --

THAT'S RIGHT.

-- AND THAT THE PERSON IS SITTING THERE TALKING TO THEM THAT WAY COULD BE A TESTER SUCH AS THE ONES THEY USE, MAYBE THEY WON GET INVOLVED IN IT.

ELECTED OFFICIALS IN THE STATE AND IN LONG ISLAND, HOW HAVE THEY RESPONDED TO THIS?

WELL, THE RESPONSE HAS BEEN SWIFT AND IN A LOT OF WAYS OVERWHELMING.

THE GOVERNOR, THE STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL, THE TWO COUNTY EXECUTIVES, NASSAU AND SUFFOLK HAVE ALL GOTTEN INVOLVED WITH EITHER INVESTIGATIONS OR PROMISES OF INCREASED FUNDING OR INCREASED ENFORCEMENT.

AND THE STATE SENATE IS HOLDING A HEARING ON LONG ISLAND ABOUT IT.

GREAT IMPACT.

YEAH.

SO IT COULD MEAN THERE'S REFORM LEGISLATION.

WE DON'T KNOW.

WHAT ABOUT THE 12 REAL ESTATE AGENCIES THAT YOU TESTED?

HOW HAVE THEY RESPONDED?

THEY'VE LARGELY BEEN MUTE ABOUT IT.

SOME RESPONDED -- WE INFORMED THEM ALL OF WHAT THE FINDINGS WERE.

SOME OFFERED STATEMENTS THAT -- GENERAL STATEMENTS THAT THEY ABIDE BY THE FAIR HOUSING LAW OR THEY TAKE IT SERIOUSLY.

ONE CAME BACK AND PRETTY -- YOU KNOW, THEY CHALLENGED US TO DOCUMENT WHAT WE HAD DONE, AND WE FELT WE HAD DONE THAT OKAY.

SO OTHERWISE, BUT IT'S BEEN MUTED, IF YOU WILL.

THERE HASN'T BEEN A LOT OF UPRISING ABOUT IT IN THE INDUSTRY THAT WE ARE AWARE OF.

WELL, ARTHUR, THIS IS A POWERFUL, POWERFUL INVESTIGATION YOU ENGAGED IN.

IT'S THE KIND OF THING THAT WE IN JOURNALISM GET INVOLVED IN JOURNALISM TO BE ABLE TO DO.

CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR WORK.

AND IT LOOKS LIKE IT'S GOING TO MAKE SOME CHANGES.

WE'LL SEE.

THANK YOU.

THANK YOU.

Announcer: 'METROFOCUS' IS MADE POSSIBLE BY -- JAMES AND MERYL TISCH, SUE AND EDGAR WACHENHEIM III, THE SYLVIA A.

AND SIMON B.POIDA PROGRAMMING ENDOWMENT TO FIGHT ANTI-SEMIDIZ M, BERNARD AND IRENE SCHWARTZ, BARBARA HOPE ZUCKERBERG, AND BY --

Funders

MetroFocus is made possible by James and Merryl Tisch, Sue and Edgar Wachenheim III, the Sylvia A. and Simon B. Poyta Programming Endowment to Fight Anti-Semitism, Bernard and Irene Schwartz, Rosalind P. Walter, Barbara Hope Zuckerberg, Jody and John Arnhold, the Cheryl and Philip Milstein Family, Janet Prindle Seidler, Judy and Josh Weston and the Dr. Robert C. and Tina Sohn Foundation.

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