A tenant blacklist, compiled by algorithm

A tenant blacklist, compiled by algorithm, Mark Pazniokas, CT Mirror, March 28, 2019, available here

Fair-housing advocates say a federal judge in Connecticut has opened the door to legal challenges of a practice on the cutting edge of housing discrimination: The outsourcing of tenant screening to companies that effectively blacklist rental applicants using computerized assessments of criminal records.

In what the Connecticut Fair Housing Center calls a “landmark civil rights decision,” U.S. District Court Judge Vanessa L. Bryant ruled that consumer reporting agencies that screen tenants for landlords must comply with the federal Fair Housing Act as the de facto arbiters of who gets an apartment, not merely providers of background information.

The ruling touches on two broad public policy debates now before Congress and state legislatures: The use and misuse of criminal records to assess fitness for employment, housing and credit; and the increasing use of hard-to-challenge computer algorithms to make those decisions.

Last year, the Connecticut Fair Housing Center and Carmen Arroyo sued CoreLogic of Irvine, Calif., a company that Arroyo says illegally discriminated against her severely disabled son, Mikhail, in 2016.

Arroyo, who was living in a one-bedroom apartment at ArtSpaces in Windham, applied for permission to move to a two-bedroom apartment in the complex and add Mikhail as a tenant. The application was denied after Mikhail was flagged by CoreLogic, a tenant screening company, for reasons not made clear.

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