Searching for Fair Housing

75 Pages Posted: 11 Apr 2016 Last revised: 13 Apr 2017

See all articles by Lee Anne Fennell

Lee Anne Fennell

University of Chicago - Law School

Date Written: April 12, 2017


There is a blind spot in the scholarly and legal treatment of housing discrimination: the racial biases of home seekers. Search strategies routinely incorporate information about neighborhood racial composition, either as a proxy or as a direct preference. Although search heuristics can powerfully entrench and perpetuate (or, alternatively, disrupt) segregation, it is widely assumed that the way that families search for homes is none of the law’s business. This paper questions that assumption and, more broadly, examines how home seeking fits into a societal conception of fair housing that assigns positive value to integration.

Keywords: Fair Housing Act, Section 1982, discrimination, housing, integration, segregation, disparate impact, affirmatively further

Suggested Citation

Fennell, Lee Anne, Searching for Fair Housing (April 12, 2017). 97 Boston University Law Review 349 (2017); U of Chicago, Public Law Working Paper No. 575; Kreisman Working Papers Series in Housing Law and Policy No. 34. Available at SSRN:

Lee Anne Fennell (Contact Author)

University of Chicago - Law School ( email )

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