LITMUS TEST FOR LANDLORDS
Burlington, Vermont – There are signs it’s less of a landlord’s market– as
more and more vacant apartments become available in Vermont. They’re ready
to rent, but not to everyone. A year-long study at the Fair Housing Project
tested landlords in Vermont. The group found nearly 50% illegally
discriminated against Islamic immigrants.
“A lot want to think of Vermont as an open, progressive place and this
doesn’t happen here,” says Willa Darley Chapin of the Fair Housing Project.
The project used two testers to call rental properties. One caller sounded
American, the other sounded Muslim. Both had identical incomes and were the
“The only significant difference between them was their national origin,”
27 calls were made to landlords in Lamoille, Washington and Chittenden
Counties. The American tester was successful. But about half the time, the
foreign tester was told the property was not available, there were fees
attached, or the phone call was simply not returned.
For immigrants, like Muhaideen Batah, the reason is simple: 9-11.
“The individuals who did this– the horrific 9-11– they do not represent
me as a Muslim or my faith,” says Batah. “It’s not fair to say we all the
same the Muslims. We came here to this country for a better future for us
and for our kids.”
“Does discrimination happen? Yes. On this scale? No, certainly not,” says
Stuart Bennett of the Vt. Apartment Owners Association.
The Association questions the study’s validity. They say such a small test
sample does not indicate widespread discrimination in the state.
“Such a low sample over a long period of time doesn’t mean anything,” says
Bennett. “27 calls to 27 people in the state of Vermont is completely