Expanding Fair Housing and Fair Lending Opportunity Among Low Income and Undocumented Immigrants
Immigrants face major barriers to fair housing and fair lending opportunity. Obstacles include discrimination by landlords, real estate professionals and other housing providers based on immigrants’ race, country of origin, and real or perceived immigration status. Language barriers impede many immigrants’ access to information about housing opportunities and their rights under fair housing and other anti-discrimination laws. Immigrants who are new to the country or have avoided debt typically lack formal credit histories, which are increasingly reviewed by landlords when considering prospective tenants, and are vital to securing mortgages on fair terms.
Housing affordability is a pervasive issue affecting immigrants, who are more likely than people born in the U.S. to live in cities and to spend a larger percentage of their incomes on housing. In New York City, where immigrants make up 37% of the population and 46% of the workforce, low income renters living in unsubsidized apartments typically spend more than half of their incomes on rent.1 Immigrant families are more likely to live in overcrowded housing conditions, as well as in illegally converted housing units.2 In recent years, affordable housing in New York and other highcost cities has been threatened by “predatory equity” schemes, in which private equity companies have purchased rent-regulated apartment buildings and attempted to force out low income, often immigrant tenants paying below-market rents.