Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council
Press Release

Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, National Fair Housing Alliance, and Other Fair Housing Organizations File Federal Discrimination Lawsuit to Stop Real Estate Redlining

Nation’s Leading Fair Housing Organizations Challenge Redfin’s Service Policies by Alleging Race and National Origin Discrimination

By - Oct 29th, 2020 03:50 pm

Milwaukee, WI – The Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council (MMFHC), the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and other fair housing organizations filed a federal lawsuit against Redfin, a national real estate firm based in Seattle, Washington. After a two-year investigation, the groups determined that Redfin’s minimum home price policy discriminates against sellers and buyers of homes in communities of color in many metropolitan areas.

“When companies like Redfin pick and choose which neighborhoods they’ll give full service, and those they will not service at all, it results in the perpetuation of racial segregation and disproportionate access to wealth-building and quality of life opportunities,” said William R. Tisdale, President and CEO of MMFHC. “These practices are similar to the institutional forms of discrimination the Fair Housing Council has identified in other segments of the housing industry. For example, in Milwaukee, we’ve successfully challenged discriminatory practices by insurance companies that denied homeowners in African American and Hispanic neighborhoods the same type and cost of insurance coverage as was provided to homeowners in predominately white neighborhoods. Although we are not seeing instructions attached to listings of homes that say, ‘Do not work in this neighborhood because of the race of the people who live there,’ the effect of Redfin’s actions are the same. This continuing form of redlining not only violates the law, but must be eliminated.”

“Redlining and the residential segregation it causes represent America’s oldest racist and discriminatory real estate policy. The fact that these actions are still occurring, let alone by a major corporation, demonstrates why we need strong civil rights protections now more than ever,” said Lisa Rice, President and CEO of NFHA. “Redfin’s policies redline communities of color and will further exacerbate the racial wealth and homeownership gaps. We must ensure that all neighborhoods are treated fairly and have access to the full range of services provided by real estate companies. We must also ensure that companies do not use their technologies, including digitally-based platforms, to deny people the housing opportunities and services they deserve.”

Redfin’s minimum home price policy has restricted access to services and financial incentives for sellers and buyers of homes in predominately non-White areas. The investigation determined that Redfin offers no services in non-White zip codes at a disproportionately higher rate than in White zip codes in the following areas: Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO/KS; Long Island, NY; Louisville, KY; Memphis, TN; Milwaukee, WI; Newark, NJ; and Philadelphia, PA.

On behalf of MMFHC and NFHA, and the other organizations listed below, the lawsuit was filed by the New York-based law firm of Emery Celli Brinkerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP and Seattle-based firm MacDonald Hoague & Bayless in the federal district court in Seattle, Washington.

·     South Suburban Housing Center

·     Open Communities

·     HOPE Fair Housing Center

·     Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit

·     Fair Housing Justice Center, Inc.

·     Long Island Housing Services, Inc.

·     Lexington Fair Housing Council

·     Fair Housing Rights Center in Southeastern Pennsylvania

Among other things, the plaintiffs seek a court order ending Redfin’s minimum housing price policy and other practices that violate the Fair Housing Act. “We cannot let these blatant civil rights violations to continue. NFHA will do everything in our power to fight back,” stated Lisa Rice.

This investigation was made possible in part through a grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Recent Press Releases by Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council

Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council, National Fair Housing Alliance, and Other Fair Housing Organizations File Federal Discrimination Lawsuit to Stop Real Estate Redlining

Nation’s Leading Fair Housing Organizations Challenge Redfin’s Service Policies by Alleging Race and National Origin Discrimination

Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council

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