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Minorities more likely to live in dangerous conditions

People of color in Michigan and throughout the country are often shown homes in areas with poor environmental quality compared to white people. This is the finding of a study prepared for the National Bureau of Economic Research. Its results show that people of color are often steered into neighborhoods that are close to toxic sites or that have high levels of air pollution.

The research was based on data collected by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development during its own housing discrimination study. That study looked at neighborhoods in 28 American cities and found that certain characteristics determined where individuals were most likely to live. The HUD study used both white and minority actors who presented themselves as similarly qualified to buy a home. Information about the homes suggested to them was then compared with Environmental Protection Agency data.

According to the combined data, minorities were more likely to be shown houses closer to Superfund sites. When presented with this data, the National Association of Realtors said that it was committed to adhering to the Fair Housing Act. It also mentioned in a statement that it supported the right of those accused of violating the law to defend themselves. Policies such as redlining or refusing to loan money to minority buyers were outlawed when the Fair Housing Act passed in 1968.

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for a homeowner or landlord to refuse housing to someone based on their race, gender or other protected attributes. Violating the law may result in fines or other legal consequences. An attorney may help someone who believes that he or she has been discriminated against pursue justice. This may occur through a settlement or at the conclusion of a trial.