Just what does a fair housing investigator do? Meet Jessica*, one of Open Communities’ investigators.
With a background in architecture and social welfare, this former social worker came to Open Communities because she wanted to be a part of the solution instead of working around roadblocks.
“As a former social worker, I helped people navigate housing discrimination in the past, and I like talking with people. Given my architectural background, I love examining buildings to see if they meet housing codes.”
Jessica’s investigations are both in-person and over the phone. Open Communities’ staff provides her with who to contact and a fake personal back story to use. Jessica is unaware of the complaint details so that she remains neutral during the call or meeting. She then poses as a potential tenant or home buyer to see how people treat her when she inquires about renting or buying a home.
“I have had interesting conversations that raised red flags. People overshare and overstep when talking on the phone. For example, a rental ad might say background check required, but when they speak with me and hear my white-sounding voice, they tell me a background check is not necessary.”
Some cases are resolved after just one call or visit. But others require additional investigation and may even lead to litigation. The goal, though, is to avoid litigation and mediate instead.
If you think you have encountered fair housing discrimination, please contact us.
*Names have been changed