Breaking News: State rejects Fair Housing Council’s complaint

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries has dismissed the only complaint by the Fair Housing Council of Oregon against a Portland landlord accused of discriminating against tenants, following a high profile audit that sent the city into a furor over fair housing practices.

BOLI released the decision today after a contentious give and take between BOLI and the FHCO over the testing methodology and implicated Cascade Community Management in discriminating based on race and national origin.

BOLI, the statewide agency that enforces housing law and related civil rights, said the testing in the report “does not rise to a level sufficient for serious consideration of a Commissioner’s complaint.”

The city contracted with the Fair Housing Council last summer to audit fair housing practices among local landlords. It was the first of such audits for the city, which would use the results as part of the federally mandated “analysis to impediments” process in order to receive federal housing funds.

The results, completed in February, were jarring: Out of 50 tests, the Fair Housing Council reported finding discrimination based on race or nation of origin in more than 60 percent of the tests. Among the disparities in treatment were African-Americans and Latinos being told higher movie-in costs and higher rent, and additional costs that were not applied to white applicants. The results of the survey were turned over to BOLI for further investigation.

However, in its summary evaluation of the tests, BOLI sharply criticized FHCO’s practices, in one case stating: “Given the fact that the testers spoke to different agents on different days, with no clear indication that the rents referenced were for the same or qualitatively similar units, it does not appear reasonable to conclude that the discrepancy in the entries on FHCO’s cover sheets should be attributed to discrimination based upon a protected class.”

More on this to follow.

Posted by Joanne Zuhl

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