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ND Group Reports Spike in Housing Discrimination Calls

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Tuesday, January 10, 2023   

The U.S. is seeing record numbers of housing-discrimination complaints filed by consumers, and North Dakota is among the states where calls for help have gone up significantly. The National Fair Housing Alliance said for 2021, the U.S. had the highest number of complaints since this data has been collected.

In North Dakota, the High Plains Fair Housing Center said the demand for help did not stop in 2022, noting it saw a 44% increase calls coming in.

Michelle Rydz, executive director of the High Plains Fair Housing Center, said a big percentage of those were from people who said they had housing obstacles after it was discovered they were receiving public assistance.

"There's been a lot of landlords who are just outright not accepting it," Rydz said. "They're not accepting it for a security deposit, they're requiring income three times the amount of the rent."

She said these situations coincide with the state carrying out its Rent Help program and the likelihood that recipients are more aware of their rights. Rydz added the state has investigated some of these claims and found discrimination occurred. The center acknowledges higher demand has stretched its staff, with national leaders calling for more resources for housing organizations.

Rydz stressed that even though caseworkers have a lot on their plate, groups such as hers are still ready to help, and she encouraged people to speak up in these situations. She added while these cases sometimes result in investigations, the best outcome is having key agencies hammer out a compromise.

"That's when the Department of Labor and Human Rights or the Department of Housing and Urban Development will work with the person who's experiencing discrimination and landlord or property manager, etc., and then come to a conciliation," Rydz said.

She said that prevents the client from having their housing situation stuck in limbo while the administrative process takes its course. The center said most of the complaints they take in result in conciliation. While there was a 224% increase in fair-housing complaints related to public assistance last year, North Dakota saw a big jump in another category: a spike in sex discrimination complaints tied to housing, which rose 158%.

Disclosure: High Plains Fair Housing Center contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Civil Rights, Housing/Homelessness, Human Rights/Racial Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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