HUD is interested in testing new and innovative methodologies to research housing discrimination and understand different aspects of discrimination than what paired testing traditionally focuses on. Following the completion of the 2012 HDS study, articles in the Cityscape journal noted that using paired testing to conduct research of broader patterns of housing discrimination may underreport evidence of discrimination. Research that relies on paired testing to investigate broad patterns in housing discrimination may report a lower bound of the prevalence of discrimination (Turner and James 2015) in certain circumstances, including the following—

  • Research that constructs samples from advertised housing units. Paired testing may be unable to detect discrimination among all types of housing providers because some housing providers may intentionally avoid or limit public advertising to exclude minorities and other potential residents (Freiberg and Squires 2015; Pitingolo and Ross 2015).
  • Paired testing research that assesses the initial interaction with housing providers. Some housing providers may change their behavior in subsequent meetings with housing applicants they initially deem favorable, but such changes would not be revealed in the initial interaction (Freiberg and Squires 2015).
  • Research on segments of the housing market where access is limited such as gated communities, tax credit housing, and nursing homes, among others (Freiberg and Squires 2015).
  • Research that uses market-wide tests that may have omitted or under sampled smaller geographic areas with high housing discrimination rates (Pitingolo and Ross 2015).

Another recent challenge to measuring housing discrimination is that inquiries about rental units can now be conducted online without the need for tenants to divulge their personal characteristics. New technology permits online housing searches, including searches via smartphones, and home-seekers may also be able to gather more information about available rental and sales units without divulging their personal characteristics. This results in discrimination later in the interaction with housing providers which is not typically measured in research using paired testing. At the same time, housing providers may be able to detect customer characteristics by screening phone messages, using Caller ID, or even employing real-time, web-based identity verification engines. Testing protocols must adapt to these technological changes, both to avoid detection and to capture differential treatment that might occur before in-person interactions.

The method submission process is now closed.

You will receive a $1,000 honorarium if 2M recommends your methodology to HUD. 2M will recommend up to 10 methodologies to HUD.

Please contact [email protected] for more information.

The $1,000 honorarium is awarded to each submitted methodology recommended to HUD by 2M Research. 

For nearly 50 years, advocacy organizations and governmental agencies have used paired testing to measure and detect housing discrimination defined according to protected characteristics, e.g., race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, familial status. In paired testing, two individuals who are matched on social and economic characteristics but differ on a single focal characteristic that is being tested for discrimination will assume the role of applicants for housing (Evidence Matters 2014). Evidence of discrimination is shown when one tester is treated differently than their paired tester by the housing provider (Evidence Matters 2014). The results of paired testing has been used as evidence in housing discrimination matters because it provides “clear evidence in a form that best suits the manner that trial courts prefer to proceed to decisions; that is, a specific set of facts about well-defined interactions between specific individuals” (Turner and James 2015).

HUD’s Office of Policy Development and Research (PD&R) has used paired testing for research purposes to measure the incidence of housing discrimination in the United States. In research studies, paired testing requires a representative sample and consistent protocol that ensure findings from the sample can credibly be generalized to broader patterns in the housing market (Turner and James 2015). For example, PD&R’s 2012 study was designed to produce estimates of Black, Hispanic, or Asian homebuyers experiencing discrimination and estimates of Black and Hispanic persons experiencing rental discrimination for 28 major metropolitan areas in 2012 (Turner et al 2013). Other studies by PD&R have measured discrimination against persons because of disability, familial status, and source of income. For more information on HUD discrimination studies, click here.

2M anticipates methodological innovation may take numerous forms:

  • Improving sampling for paired testing to account for selective use of advertising (or not advertising) as a form of discrimination.
  • Increasing follow-up interactions with in-person or correspondence-paired testing to assess more sustained housing search interactions.
  • Developing new testing methods for protected classes that are less often studied, perhaps expanding on pilot efforts of past HDS studies.
  • Improving analysis of paired testing data in a way that finds a middle ground between conventional net and gross measures.
  • Enhancing paired testing results with other data.
  • Shifting from market-wide tests of discrimination to focus on geographic areas that stand out as appearing to be racial/ethnic-exclusionary.
  • Surveying landlords and real estate brokers in a way that accurately reveals their understanding of fair housing laws and their practices when advertising, responding and working with prospective home-seekers, and managing their housing (for landlords).
  • Suggesting other entirely new approaches.

For those who are selected for feasibility tests, we will meet with you and discuss the partnership for the feasibility test. Researchers who will contribute to the feasibility study will be compensated.

We anticipate the cost of testing different methodologies will vary; however, we expect testing of most methods to cost between $50,000 and $150,000, with the potential for larger feasibility studies if needed.

Yes. If you are interested in submitting multiple methodologies, please do so in separate submissions.

Please contact the team at [email protected]