City of Columbia to Conduct Housing Discrimination Study

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COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia will partner with a University of Missouri professor next year to find housing discrimination in Columbia. Federal funding will provide $4,300 for the study and MU associate professor of law Rigel Oliveri will lead the study.

MU students, along with volunteers from the general population, will pose as renters and report on their experiences with landlords. Oliveri and the city of Columbia will look for discrimination based on standard categories such as race, age, and gender or sexual orientation.

The study is not because of specific incidents or complaints, but instead is a way for the city to meet requirements to keep funding from HUD, The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Randy Cole, community development coordinator for the city of Columbia, said the results from the study will help inform the city of what kind of housing education and compliance efforts it needs to undergo for landlords and tenants. He stressed that study results are not for enforcement, but education purposes.

Cole also said the study results will help develop a five-year education and consolidation plan for housing the city will submit to keep funding from HUD. Cole said the city will develop the plan a year and a half from now.