craigslist_090109.jpgThe Federal Fair Housing Act was passed 40 years ago, points out the Gotham Gazette, which allows the Department of Justice to prosecute “patterns or practices” of “housing discrimination”, and yet housing discrimination persists, according to the Fair Housing Justice Center, a non-profit advocacy organization. There is a significant dearth of affordable housing, for example, and the sales and rental markets are operated by brokers, some of whom use illegal practices and propagate discriminatory concepts such as the idea that it is okay to set a limit on the number of children. The FHJC gave the Gazette several examples of discrimination based on race (NYC is the fourth most segregated metropolitan area in the U.S. for African Americans, and the fifth most for Latinos), disabilities (such as new buildings that flaunt flout design requirements for access to disabled people), or income source. In July 2008, for example, the FHJC found that close to 400 posts from 161 different real estate companies on Craigslist discriminated on income source alone, using phrases like “no government programs.” As a solution to these violations of rights, the Center is pushing for better training of realtors and brokers, consistent and flexible enforcement of existing laws, and improved regulations towards marketing practices that will make all available units visible to all demographics.
Housing Bias Persists [Gotham Gazette]

Here’s one way for Democrats to make a campaign contribution that promises immediate payback. For 40 bucks, Benches for Barack — a grassroots fundraiser advertised on lampposts and on Craigslist — will build you a garden bench. $25 goes toward building supplies and the remaining $15 gets donated to the Obama campaign.

A pair of bright neighborhood kids, 18-year-old high school grads Harry Fishbein and Emma Dillon, build these sturdy benches in the basement of Harry’s Cobble Hill home and cheerfully deliver them to doorsteps around Brooklyn, free of charge. The benches are 18 inches tall, 4 feet long, and about 10 inches wide, and turnaround is quick. We received ours, which is painted a muted sage green, within hours of sending an email to Benches for Barack. (more…)

Sackett Street Fence. Photo by Alexis Robie
Has anyone else found Craigslist getting more and more useles for townhouse sales? Maybe free listings are not particulary useful when dealing in items that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. (It seems to work a lot better for apartment rentals, though Craig has publicly discussed the tough issues in that arena too). Clearly the end-user (buyer) benefits from the self-selection that occurs when the New York Times charges a fee to list a property. Less “noise”, more quality. Is there anyone out there who found their townhouse through Craigslist? Is there anything Craig could be doing to improve the property sales section?