The Fair Housing Act, passed in 1968, has made brokers nervous to so much as whisper a word of anything that might possibly be construed as discriminatory by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Yet the Detroit startup Picket Report is not a brokerage, nor a real estate search engine site, and up until yesterday the neighborhood ranker was not the least bit shy about broadcasting certain ethnic and socioeconomic stereotypes. As first reported by Curbed Detroit, the site initially worked in the following way: when you inputted the ZIP code of your choice, stats such as schools, neighborhood, crime, and "lifestyle" popped up on the next page.
Say you inputted 48208—with a median home price of roughly $6,400 that's the country's cheapest ZIP code. As of yesterday Picket Report's Lifestyle category would have spewed out the descriptors shown above, including "Soul Survivors" ("Older, down-scale African-Americans singles and single parents established in modest urban homes"), "Soulful Spenders" ("Upper middle-class African-American couples and families living in the expanding suburbs"), and "Cuidad Strivers," which was first spelled as such and later corrected to "Ciudad Strivers" ("Mid-scale Hispanic families and single parents in gateway communities").
Meanwhile, a quick spin through the much richer neighborhood of Bloomfield Hills yielded "lifestyles" such as "Silver Sophisticates."
Sadly for anyone who wants to determine their next Detroit homestead by the presence of "down-scale African-Americans" living nearby, Picket Report has since apologized and eliminated the Lifestyle section altogether. The coverage of PicketReportGate continues today on Curbed Detroit: do follow along.
· Picket Report Will Pick Out Social Pariahs And Ethnic Groups While Finding You the Perfect Neighborhood [Curbed Detroit]
· Picket Report [official site]
· All PicketReportGate Update posts [Curbed Detroit]