Steering: A Subtle Form of Discrimination

Posted On: January 17, 2024

Ebony Hall

In real estate, ‘steering’ is a term that often surfaces, yet its implications are not widely understood. Steering is a subtle form of discrimination that, as a result, can shape where people live based on race, ethnicity, or other protected characteristics.

What is Steering?

Steering involves guiding prospective homebuyers or renters towards or away from certain neighborhoods based on race, religion, or other characteristics. This practice not only violates the individual’s right to choose where they live but also perpetuates segregated living patterns.

The Impact

The consequences are profound. It limits the housing choices available to individuals and families, often segregating communities and reinforcing racial and economic divides. This practice undermines the principles of equality and diversity in our neighborhoods.

Identifying Steering

Recognizing the subtleties can be challenging, as they often come disguised as helpful suggestions. It could be as subtle as a real estate agent commenting on the ‘suitability’ of a neighborhood based on your background or repeatedly showing properties in certain areas while ignoring others.

Your Rights and Protections

Under the Fair Housing Act, steering is illegal. This Act protects individuals from discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings based on race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, or disability.

Combating Steering

To combat steering, awareness is key. If you suspect you’ve been a victim:

  • Document your experiences.
  • Seek advice from a fair housing advocate or legal professional.
  • File a complaint with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Understanding and recognizing steering is the first step towards combating this form of discrimination. We can all contribute to a fairer and more equitable housing market by being informed and vigilant.

HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) works to eliminate discrimination in housing, promote economic opportunity, and achieve diverse, inclusive communities.


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