Discrimination based on race and disability continued to account for the vast majority of housing discrimination complaints filed in North Carolina in 2020, according to the latest edition of State of Fair Housing in North Carolina, a report by the Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina. The report examines North Carolina fair housing complaint data obtained from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (“HUD”) from 2000 to 2020, the latest year for which data is available.
In 2020, there were a total of 136 fair housing complaints filed with HUD. Discrimination based on disability (79 complaints filed or 58%) and race (45 or 33%) continued to account for the vast majority of housing discrimination complaints filed in North Carolina in 2020. Over half of the complaints in 2020 (85 complaints, or 63%) were filed in just five counties: Mecklenburg (27), Durham (20), Wake (14), Guilford (12), and Forsyth (12). In 31 other counties, there were between 1 and 8 complaints filed, while the remaining 64 counties in North Carolina did not have any fair housing complaints filed in 2020.
During the two-decade period examined in the report, a total of 3,753 fair housing complaints were filed with HUD, with an average of 179 complaints filed per year. Of the total complaints filed with HUD, 41% alleged racial discrimination and 39% raised disability discrimination. The next most common allegations raised were national origin discrimination (18%), familial status (14%), and sex (12%).
In absolute numbers, the counties with the highest number of fair housing complaints during the period examined were Mecklenburg (654), Durham (551), Guilford (366), Wake (315) and Forsyth (241). However, on a per capita basis, Durham residents filed almost three times more complaints than in Mecklenburg (206 per 100,000 people compared to 71). Orange (114 per 100,000 people), Buncombe (89), and Guilford (75) were the other counties in the top five number of complaints on a per capita basis.
Housing discrimination persists across North Carolina, and studies have long shown that housing discrimination is vastly underreported and that millions of incidences of discrimination occur each year. Underreporting can occur for a variety of reasons, including a lack of education about fair housing rights and enforcement procedures, inadequate resources available to assist victims of discrimination, fear of retaliation, and victims of discrimination facing other pressing life demands.
In addition to examining fair housing complaint data, the report includes a summary of the protection and enforcement provisions of the fair housing laws and an examination of North Carolina’s population demographics, with a focus on characteristics that are protected by our fair housing laws.
The work that provided the basis for this publication was supported by funding under a grant (FEOI210033) with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The substance and findings of the work are dedicated to the public. The author and publisher are solely responsible for the accuracy of the statements and interpretations contained in this publication. Such interpretations do not necessarily reflect the views of the Federal Government.