Testing is designed to discover whether persons are being treated
differently than other customers because of a protected personal
characteristic such as race, sex, disability or familial status.
In a typical housing test, persons of evenly matched qualifications
but of different personal characterstics will inquire about an
apartment or house for rent. The test contacts will be recorded
by audio or video tape. The test coordinator will then compare
the results of the individual tests to determine if there has
been different treatment.
The purpose of testing is to check on compliance with the law, and to inform and educate. Persons or entities who are tested are notified of the results. If the person or organization "passed" the test they are notified and congratulated. If the test uncovers shortcomings or potential problems, educational materials and training sessions are offered. Complaints are not filed as a result of testing unless the person or organization is unwilling to recognize the need to correct their practices, or unless the incident is particularly blatant. Press releases are issued to inform the community of the tests and the results.
The Commission's testing program received a big boost with
the award of a grant from the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD) in the amount of $116,999. The purpose of the
grant is to conduct housing tests on the bases of race, familial
status, and disability in 51 communities around the state. The
grant allowed for the hiring of test coordinators, per diem and
expense payments to testers, and purchase of additional and more
sophisticated electronic equipment.
At the end of the fiscal year, ten communities had been tested
for a total of 160 individual housing tests. Eighteen tests uncovered
actions that were questionable, that is things were said or done
by the housing providers that could be viewed as discriminatory.
This resulted in 14 complaints being filed.
Employment and public accommodations tests are also done as
needed. This happens most often when a citizen alerts the Commission
of an action by or policy of an employer or business which appears
to be discriminatory. Several testing situations have also taken
place as a result of requests from local commissions.