A Home for Digital Equity: Algorithmic Redlining and Property Technology
66 Pages Posted: 11 Jan 2023 Last revised: 11 Oct 2023
Date Written: 2023
Property technologies (PropTech) are innovations that automate real estate transactions. Automating rental markets amplifies racial discrimination and segregation in housing. Because screening tools rely on data drawn from discriminatory—and often overtly segregationist—historical practices, they replicate those practices’ unequal outcomes in the form of algorithmic redlining. In this Article, I focus on one form of PropTech: automated tenant screens. Automated tenant screens operate with machine learning algorithms that process data sources––credit scores, eviction records, and criminal histories––derived from the very institutions that created inequities in housing and wealth. This Article critiques institutional use of data and centers on renters of color, who too often confront sociopolitical, financial, and now digital barriers to housing throughout the home search process. The Fair Housing Act has an underutilized tool that can address algorithmic redlining. I recommend a normative frame of segregative effect theory as a countermeasure to segregation exacerbated by PropTech. This Article is one of the first to elevate algorithmic redlining by PropTech and prescribe a legal strategy.
Keywords: segregative effect, disparate impact, proptech, algorithm, redlining, technology, tenant screening, housing discrimination, fair housing act, digital equity, equity, real estate, eviction, credit report, criminal record
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