Groups Work to Alleviate Troubling Discrimination in Southern California's Housing

July 8, 2002

Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 8, 2002 the Los Angeles Times featured an article on discrimination faced by Muslim Americans and South Asian Americans when renting apartments in Southern California. "Anxiety... heightened in May when the FBI issued a memo saying terrorists might target apartment buildings with explosives... The Los Angeles Police Department followed that memo by releasing a list of guidelines that encouraged owners to be more vigilant about prospective tenants... Some housing advocates and civil rights attorneys worry that the list will encourage landlords to discriminate... In January, the magazine of the Apartment Owners Assn. of Southern California, which has a circulation of 75,000, published an article... [which] described Islam as a 'religion of violence and hatred.'" The Muslim Public Affairs Council and the South Asian Network are among the groups documenting and advocating to end the housing discrimination and hate crimes in the area. But their work is challenging because "knowing whether an incident is motivated by a person's religion or ethnicity is inherently difficult... Advocates [also] acknowledge that they do not know the extent of housing harassment or discrimination. In a time of increased detentions, interrogations and deportations, they said, getting people to talk is tough."