A Report of Michigan’s Fair Housing Centers
With funding from the Arcus Foundation, based in Kalamazoo, four Michigan fair housing groups set out to investigate housing discrimination based on sexual orientation. Tests were conducted by the Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan (Kalamazoo), the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit, the Fair Housing Center of West Michigan (Grand Rapids), and the Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan (Ann Arbor).
To complete this project, the Michigan Fair Housing Centers performed a total of 120 paired tests. The tests compared the treatment of test teams posing as same-sex couples to testers posing as heterosexual married couples. Same-sex testers were instructed to introduce themselves as “life partners.”
In each paired test, the same-sex couple was provided better credentials—higher income, larger down payment, better credit—in comparison to their counterparts. To test only one variable, sexual orientation, each side of the test was balanced for race and national origin.
Testers were sent to inquire about rental housing, homes for sale, and home financing options. Tested properties were located in rural areas, small cities, large cities, and college towns. Some properties were located in cities with fair housing ordinances that prohibit housing discrimination based on sexual orientation; other properties were located in areas without this protection. Testing was done of multi-family apartment complexes, real estate firms, and mortgage lenders.
Testing by the Michigan Fair Housing Centers uncovered widespread discrimination against same-sex couples. In some parts of the state, discrimination was more pervasive than in other parts of the state. This report describes the testing results, the status of legal protections for same sex couples in the housing market, and strategies for further action.
Fair Housing Center of Southeastern Michigan
Fair Housing Center of Southwest Michigan
Fair Housing Center of West Michigan
Updated for Release January 2007
Available online at www.fhcmichigan.org