Housing discrimination ‘subtler,’ but still there, Philly council told

Philadelphia officials are looking into housing discrimination, saying it’s much more hard to find.

Things have changed over the years, said Stephanie Chapman, commercial property director for the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission.

“I’ve been with the commission for 13 years in a variety of capacities and I can attest to the fact that discrimination has become much more subtle,” she said. “We have very few cases that involve direct evidence of discriminatory practices. The days of landlords hanging out signs saying ‘No Blacks Allowed’ or ‘Whites Only’ are long gone.”

Now complaints include higher deposits for rentals, or showing fewer properties to minorities.

There has been some positive movement toward ending housing discrimination, but a new federal study shows it remains a problem, Rue Landau of the Philadelphia Fair Housing Commission told City Council.

Examples of discrimination include higher move-in payments and deposits or showing minorities fewer available properties, according to Angela McIver of the Fair Housing Rights Center.

“Because a person from a majority group followed the person from the minority group, they were given information like, ‘Well, you know if you take it now, you won’t have to pay your security deposit’ or ‘You won’t have to pay last month’s rent, we’ll cut that deal with you. Would you take it off the market right now?'”

City Council is considering setting up a task force to review the issue.

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