Rental Market Unkind To Those With Developmental Disabilities
As people with developmental disabilities increasingly live in community-based settings, a first-of-its-kind report is finding that they face a multitude of barriers in obtaining housing.
When inquiring about rental units, people with disabilities often get no response. They are less likely than others to be told that a unit is available or invited to check it out. And frequently, they are treated adversely or encouraged to look at a different unit than what was advertised.
These are the findings of a report released this week that was produced for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development looking at discrimination in the rental housing market against those with developmental disabilities and mental illness.
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The study comes as more with disabilities leave nursing homes and other institutional facilities for community-based living options.
While it is illegal to discriminate against people with disabilities in renting, selling or financing housing, such complaints accounted for more than half of housing discrimination claims last year. Accordingly, the government sought to better understand the types of discrimination individuals face and how common it is.
For the report, researchers examined previous studies on the rental experiences of those with disabilities and conducted focus groups with individuals in this population as well as with advocates and policymakers.
Subsequently, they asked over 2,000 individuals — half with developmental disabilities or mental illness and half without disabilities — to seek out rental housing in multiple urban markets using email, phone or in-person inquiries.
The study found “significant levels of adverse differential treatment” toward individuals with disabilities. Likewise, requests for reasonable accommodations ranging from having a service animal to getting a verbal reminder about when rent is due were frequently met with resistance.
The findings suggest that broader efforts are needed to educate housing providers across the country about their obligations when dealing with those with disabilities and to teach individuals with special needs about their rights, the report authors said.