t is incredibly difficult to find affordable housing in California. The average price of a home in California is $600,000 which is double the national average.
There are several reasons for the housing crisis, including:
- The number of homes/apartment buildings that have been destroyed by wildfires in recent years
- High construction costs
- A discrepancy between the average wage and the average cost of a home
- Not enough construction companies/workers
- Lack of housing subsidies
The situation is so bad that some California residents who make middle wage or lower report that they have spent 3-5 years trying to find an apartment.
The Role Housing Discrimination Plays in California
In an attempt to keep a roof over as many heads as possible, California lawmakers have passed housing discrimination laws. These laws are very similar to many workplace discrimination laws. The housing discrimination laws prevent landlords and real estate companies from using someone’s sex, sexual preference, race, religion, marital status, or disability when determining who should and shouldn’t be allowed to live in a particular property.
The housing discrimination laws specifically prevent landlords/real estate agents from:
- Openly using personal discrimination as a reason for refusing to lease, sell, or rent to a person
- Being so biased that they’re unwilling to negotiate with an interested party
- Learning a person’s gender/age/race and suddenly deciding that a unit is no longer available
- Using personal bias as a reason to provide inferior living conditions
- Behaving in a harassing manner
Do the Housing Discrimination Laws Work
It’s difficult to determine just how effective California’s housing discrimination laws are. While they likely prevent a landlord from evicting a tenant because of race, there’s no way to tell if a prejudice against a tenant’s race/sex/marital status/gender doesn’t cause the landlord to seek out a reason to evict the person or to reject someone else’s application.
How to Handle Housing Discrimination
If you feel that you have been the victim of housing discrimination, it’s in your best interest to take a proactive stance. The first thing you need to do is record everything that happened to you, particularly the episodes/conversations that made you feel like you were being discriminated against.
Once you have collected your evidence, approach a knowledgeable lawyer, and ask for their help. Not only will they determine whether you have a housing discrimination case, but they’ll also offer advice about how you should proceed.