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Get Out the Message on Housing Bias

February 10, 1991

Some immigrants are picking up a bad habit in their new country--discrimination. Fair housing officials cite increasing complaints against Asian, Latino and other immigrant landlords who may not know that refusing to rent to qualified tenants because of race, national origin, ethnicity and religion is against the law.

The incidents are few in number when compared to all bias reports, but this particular form of discrimination is worrisome, given the changing demographics in the region. If it isn't neutralized quickly, prejudices and intergroup tensions will be exacerbated.

The complaints are not limited to any single group or any one area, according to Times writer Judy Pasternak. Cambodian and Latino landlords prompt complaints in Long Beach. Russian and Armenian landlords are the target in West Hollywood and Glendale. Korean landlords are allegedly at fault in the Mid-Wilshire district and in Orange County.

Local fair housing councils, civil rights advocates, community groups, the apartment association, the county Human Relations Commission and others are doing what they can to educate landlords and apartment managers through speeches and training programs. They still need bilingual volunteers and more resources to expand their outreach and investigate complaints.

Lawsuits are a time-consuming and expensive last resort. But those legal victories send out a strong message that bears repeating again and again: Housing discrimination is downright un-American.

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