A three-year Newsday investigation recently brought to light that real estate agents on Long Island were guilty of discriminating against house buyers due to their ethnicity.
Called Long Island Divided, the 13-part series was released in November 2019, but it all started in 2016 when Newsday reporters were looking into census figures and discovered consistent segregation patterns throughout the region. In addition, Newsday owner, Patrick Dolan, had heard from community members that the real estate industry was not meeting fair housing standards.
Newsday decided to investigate by sending 25 testers into local real estate agencies. The investigation team was large, but reporters Ann Choi, Keith Herbert, Olivia Winslow and project editor Arthur Browne led the way.
The testers consisted of actors and volunteers: 10 were white, nine black, five Hispanic and three Asian. Their ages varied as well, from a 20-year-old college student to an established 60-year-old. Each tester was paired with a partner with an equal profile--the same gender, age, income and credit scores.
"It was very important that they be as comparable as possible so that it would tend to eliminate all other factors beyond race or ethnicity," Browne said. "We also used Zillow to tell us how many homes were available in the test zone on the dates of a test so that we could be sure that the market was similar."
The tests took place from April 2016 to August 2017. The testers began their day by memorizing a profile and calling an agency that Newsday wanted to test. In preparation, testers also participated in a day-long training session where they learned how to be fair housing testers. Testers were equipped with either a body camera or a camera attached to a purse. According to the report, New York is a one-party state, so only one party has to consent to a recording.
Over the course of the investigation, Newsday completed...