Federal law has clearly prohibited discrimination in the sale or rental of housing for two decades. California has even stricter laws and it enforces them better, but some landlords and apartment managers still don't get the message.
State authorities handled 800 complaints last year filed primarily by black tenants seeking apartments, according to Times staff writer David Ferrell. That may not sound like widespread bias, but obviously many incidents go unreported.
Federal experts plan to find out just how common housing discrimination is against black Americans and Latinos with a far-reaching survey in 25 cities. The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, aims to increase enforcement against housing discrimination and test the case for stronger legislation. Federal laws lack tough enforcement powers, and HUD, unlike California's state commission, can impose no penalties.
In a follow-up of a landmark national survey completed in 1979, HUD will send out hundreds of white, black and Latino couples. The couples, similar in income and background, will try to buy or rent homes in 25 cities. Similar local studies have always turned up incidents in which white landlords refuse to rent to minority applicants and, increasingly, examples in which minority landlords deny apartments to other minorities.