DEAF AND THOSE WHO USE WHEELCHAIRS
FACE ADDED DISCRIMINATION IN RENTAL HOUSING MARKET
National study finds deaf, hard of hearing, and those in wheelchairs told about fewer homes
WASHINGTON – Well-qualified homeseekers who are deaf or hard of hearing, as well as homeseekers who use wheelchairs, are told about fewer available housing units than comparable homeseekers who can hear and walk, according to a new study released today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Urban Institute. Discrimination in the Rental Housing Market Against People Who Are Deaf and People Who Use Wheelchairs finds that people who are deaf or who use wheelchairs are at a statistically significant disadvantage when it comes to the number of homes they are informed about.
“Every American deserves the opportunity to secure a home,” said HUD Secretary Julián Castro. “But the evidence is clear: people who are hearing-impaired or in wheelchairs face unacceptable and unjust discrimination. HUD will continue to work with our fair housing partners to protect the rights of Americans with disabilities and to promote opportunity for all.”
Key findings of the report include:
Discrimination against people who are deaf or hard of hearing
- When well-qualified homeseekers who are deaf or hard of hearing contact housing providers and use assistive communication technologies to inquire about recently advertised rental housing, providers are less likely to respond to their inquiries.
- The extent of apparent discrimination against people who are deaf or hard of hearing varies with the type of communication technology the deaf or hard of hearing tester uses to make contact with housing providers. Housing providers are more resistant to dealing with the older (but still widely used) telephone technologies which have longer communication delays.
- When they do respond, the housing providers tell homeseekers who are deaf or hard of hearing about fewer available housing options than they tell comparable homeseekers who are hearing.
Discrimination against people who use wheelchairs
- Well-qualified homeseekers who use wheelchairs are more likely to be denied an appointment to view recently advertised rental housing in buildings with accessible units than comparably qualified homeseekers who are ambulatory.
- Those who do receive an appointment are less likely than their ambulatory counterparts to be told about and shown suitable housing units.
- When homeseekers who use a wheelchair ask about modifications that would make the available housing more accessible to them, housing providers agree in most instances. However in approximately a quarter of the requests, housing providers either failed to provide a clear response or explicitly denied modification requests.
The Urban Institute, which conducted the study, employed a “paired testing” methodology in which researchers compared the treatment of persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, and those who are wheelchair bound, against those who can hear and not wheelchair bound. The paired testing track for people who were deaf or hard of hearing included 1,665 remote telephone tests conducted in a national sample of 168 metropolitan areas that contained more than four-fifths (82%)of the population that is deaf or hard of hearing and that resides in rental housing. The national sample for people who use wheelchairs included 1,259 tests in 30 metropolitan areas containing almost three-quarters (73%) of the population that has a mobility disability and that resides in rental housing.
The Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination against persons with disabilities. Discrimination complaints made on the basis of physical and mental disabilities have increased over time to become the largest share of complaints received by federal and local agencies and private fair housing organizations. In FY 2014, disability was the most common basis of complaints filed with HUD and its partner agencies, being cited as a basis for 4,606 complaints, or 54 percent of the overall total.
Persons who believe they have experienced discrimination may file a complaint by contacting Sonoma County Fair Housing (707) 765-8488, firstname.lastname@example.org or HUD’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at (800) 669-9777 (voice) or (800) 927-9275 (TTY).