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Racial Bias in Real Estate Algorithms

Updated: Nov 22, 2021

The Color of Algorithms: An Analysis and Proposed Research Agenda for Deterring Algorithmic Redlining

James A. Allen

In the digital age, nothing should ever be considered wholly innocent. James Allen illuminates powerfully the unethical use of algorithms and their racial biases. Algorithms are utilized by virtually all sectors to streamline decision-making processes with the use of big data, and often arrive at discriminatory results. From criminal justice to media targeting to real estate, algorithms are dictating who gets what, who knows what, and who gets punished with what. Algorithms are often created by homogenous groups--young to middle aged white men--who do not account for differences in social categorizations that could impact their algorithms. Or, due to their lack of transparency, they could very well know that these will impact their algorithms. This is especially relevant in the housing market, where algorithms will dictate market value, urban development investments, and, most importantly, tenant selection. One example, in particular, is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's algorithm used for the affordable housing lottery, which gives preference to "members of the same community," which, while seemingly protecting the disadvantaged, only serves to maintain the homogenous nature of New York City housing. Access the article here.

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