MHB Files Federal Discrimination lawsuit on behalf of National Fair Housing Alliance and Fair Housing organizations around the Country to Stop Real Estate Redlining

Posted by Denny Krantz

MacDonald Hoague & Bayless has teamed up with the New York law firm of Emery Celli Brinckerhoff Abady Ward & Maazel LLP to represent the The National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) and other fair housing organizations around the country in a federal lawsuit filed today against Redfin, a national real estate firm based in Seattle, Washington. After a two-year investigation, NFHA determined that Redfin’s minimum home price policy discriminates against sellers and buyers of homes in communities of color in many metropolitan areas.

The complaint filed in the federal district court for Seattle, alleges that Redfin’s minimum home price policy has restricted access to services and financial incentives for sellers and buyers of homes in predominantly non-White areas. NFHA’s investigation determined that Redfin offers no services in non-White zip codes at a disproportionately higher rate than in White zip codes in the following areas: Baltimore, MD; Chicago, IL; Detroit, MI; Kansas City, MO/KS; Long Island, NY; Louisville KY; Memphis, TN; Milwaukee, WI; Newark, NJ; and Philadelphia, PA. 

Among other things, the plaintiffs seek a court order ending Redfin’s minimum housing price policy and other practices that violate the Fair Housing Act. “We cannot allow these blatant civil rights violations to continue. NFHA will do everything in our power to fight back,” stated Lisa Rice President and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance.

MHB attorney Jeffrey L. Taren has represented one of the Plaintiffs, the Chicago area South Suburban Housing Center, for over thirty (30) years. “The housing values in our primary service area of predominantly African American neighborhoods and adjacent communities on the southside of Chicago were still heavily depressed from the mortgage market collapse of 2008, then took another blow this year with the onset of the pandemic,” stated John Petruszak, the Executive Director of the South Suburban Housing Center in metro Chicago. “Evidence uncovered by our investigation shows a dramatic pattern of ‘no service’ to homeowners in these south side communities of color by Redfin, with full service being concentrated exclusively in predominantly white areas on the north and west sides of the metro region. Redfin’s racially discriminatory failure to serve these African American communities exacerbates the area’s slow recovery of housing values.”

“Redlining and the residential segregation it causes represent America’s oldest racist and discriminatory real estate policy.  The fact that these actions are still occurring, let alone by a major corporation, demonstrates why we need strong civil rights protections now more than ever,” said Lisa Rice, president and CEO of the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA). “Redfin’s policies redline communities of color and will further exacerbate the racial wealth and homeownership gaps. We must ensure that all neighborhoods are treated fairly and have access to the full range of services provided by real estate companies.  We must also ensure that companies do not use their technologies, including digitally-based platforms, to deny people the housing opportunities and services they deserve.”

Founded in 1988, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA) is a consortium of more than 200 private, nonprofit fair housing organizations and state and local civil rights agencies from throughout the United States. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., NFHA works to eliminate housing discrimination and ensure equal housing opportunity for all people through leadership, education, outreach, consulting, membership services, public policy initiatives, community development, advocacy, and enforcement.


The complaint: 

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Jeffrey Taren

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