Posts tagged fair housing

VA’s General Assembly Spring 2015 Nearly Back in Session

It’s that time of the year again, when the Virginia General Assembly convenes to kill bills in committees, pass commendations of citizens, and I try to track the bills that are interesting (to me) and relevant to my little segment of the real estate world.

These are all the bills that I’m tracking on Richmond Sunlight, if you’re interested, ranging from foreclosure procedures to milk production to photo red enforcement to the decriminalization of marijuana. There’s a lot the government tries to mess with.

Three bills to give a taste of what’s interesting in the Virginia General Assembly this year are –

Read the rest of the story.

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Big Data and Civil Rights and Questions about Data’s Intended Uses

Big data is all the rage right now and it is going to affect virtually everything we do on and off-line.

big data

It is illegal for me to as a Realtor to tell my clients (or anybody) that all the “x race live here;” but would it be illegal for one of the new “lifestyle real estate” search engines to make the same recommendation?

Think about it.

You decide what data is about the moment you define its schema.

With the new, data-is-abundant model, we collect first and ask questions later. The schema comes after the collection. Indeed, big data success stories like Splunk, Palantir, and others are prized because of their ability to make sense of content well after it’s been collected — sometimes called a schema-less query. This means we collect information long before we decide what it’s for.

And this is a dangerous thing.

When bank managers tried to restrict loans to residents of certain areas (known as redlining) Congress stepped in to stop it (with the Fair Housing Act of 1968). They were able to legislate against discrimination, making it illegal to change loan policy based on someone’s race.

“Personalization” is another word for discrimination. We’re not discriminating if we tailor things to you based on what we know about you — right? That’s just better service.

O’Reilly Radar

If one wanted to, one could mashup (I assume, I’m no coder, but I assume anything can be done) the census block data with a real estate search engine and allow consumers to really target where they wanted to live … and next to what kind of person.

One of the most common search queries bringing people to RealCentralVA is “best neighborhoods in Charlottesville” … what does “best neighborhood in Charlottesville” mean to you? Data might probably will be able to answer this … but humans are prohibited from doing so.

Which brings us to this:

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Where The Kids At?

One of the most common criteria I get from families looking for homes in the Charlottesville area is – We want to live in a neighborhood that has a lot of kids .

…So a broker who says something like, “There are tons of little kids in this building neighborhood “it’s really family friendly” could be accused of specifically steering families to the building and driving people without children away from it.


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