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Racism in Spain’s rental market: “They asked me what color my parents were”

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Experiment reveals that finding a place to rent in Spain is harder if you are not white, with some ads advertising properties “only for Spaniards”. Three people aged around 30, each with a stable job, walk into several real estate agencies. One of them is shown many apartments and is offered the chance to get in touch with one of the owners. The other two are shown only a few places and told that “things are very bad” in the market right now. The difference between them is this: the one who is shown dozens of places is white, and other two are not. This experiment, conducted by the anti-racism organization SOS Racismo, has been repeated multiple times and the results are nearly always the same. The idea behind the test was to expose a “very hidden form of discrimination,” Mikel Mazkiaran, secretary general of SOS Racismo, told Verne“If a person goes to a real estate agent and is told there is nothing to rent, their only option is to believe it. The only way of proving that racism exists is, by contrast, putting various people in the same situation,” he explains. In the most recent experiment, published in 2016, the organization made 462 calls to 250 real estate agencies in seven regions as well as personal visits to 20 agencies in Madrid, Barcelona, San Sebastián and Vitoria. According to the findings, 70% of people who were not offered a single option were foreign-born, and those from Sub-Saharan Africa were the worst received.

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