Page 39

lated to housing choices and search patterns, such as businesses and municipal services. Transportation access and education resources are also limited in these communities.

The varying extent to which these communities are underserved has methodological implications. In some poor communities, no housing is advertised; these communities will be missed regardless of the sampling methodology. Similarly, housing opportunities in gated communities and some working-class communities are unadvertised. Denton also noted that some housing is advertised in non-English language newspapers because the advertiser is targeting immigrants or non-American applicants, and some housing is not advertised because the landlord does not want applicants of a different race. As noted earlier, these housing units may not be captured by the expanded methodology proposed for Phase II of the study. Additionally, Denton suggested that researchers should consider whether the auditors could realistically assume the identities of potential home seekers in underserved communities, whose members may possess characteristics that are difficult for an auditor from a major metropolitan area to assume or portray. Moreover, housing search patterns may differ across income levels, and these differences can have implications for matching auditors and assigning auditor profiles. Denton commented that housing transactions for marginally qualified and overly qualified applicants are also very different, and these differences have implications for the audit results, particularly in terms of unmeasured heterogeneity. The question arises of whether auditors are paired well enough to diminish the effect of this heterogeneity and the potential discrepancies between auditors' actual characteristics and their assigned profiles. Participants recognized that auditors are extensively trained to portray various types of home seekers and that their assigned profiles may require them to depict individuals with attributes dissimilar to their own. Denton suggested, however, that it is important to consider whether auditors are trained well enough or inherently capable of assuming identities that are beyond their scope of knowledge. She noted that these issues are particularly salient when auditors visit certain kinds of communities, such as low-income or mono-ethnic communities.

Denton cautioned researchers to consider potential problems with sending auditors from fair housing agencies in larger metropolitan areas to smaller underserved areas, which are unlikely to have a fair housing agency. Additionally, she posed several questions with regard to those agencies' recruitment and training methods: Can a middle-income auditor with no children effectively portray a low-income single mother? Can an employed



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement