According to a report released by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on September 5, 2017, persons living with mental disabilities (MD) face significant housing discrimination in the rental housing market compared with those who do not have such disabilities. The report, Rental Housing Discrimination on the Basis of Mental Disabilities, Results of Pilot Testing, involved testing conducted in person, by phone, and by email that paired people with either a mental illness (MI) or an intellectual or other developmental disability (I/DD) with someone who did not have a mental disability.
The report found that, compared with individuals who did not have a mental disability, individuals with MI and I/DD were:
- less likely to receive a response to their inquiry about housing;
- less likely to be told an advertised unit was available;
- less likely to be invited to contact the housing provider;
- less likely to be invited to inspect the available unit;
- more likely to be encouraged to look at a different unit than the one advertised.
In addition, the report found that “a significant percentage of individuals with MI and I/DD also experienced adverse treatment with respect to a request for a reasonable accommodation” when they contacted a provider by email or telephone.
According to HUD’s press release announcing the release of the report:
“Today’s study spotlights the types of discrimination people with mental disabilities experience when searching for housing,” said HUD Secretary Ben Carson. “The findings will not only inform our enforcement efforts, but enable us to identify and remove barriers for those who face housing discrimination. Though nearly 30 years have passed since the Fair Housing Act was expanded to protect individuals with disabilities, we still have work to do to ensure equitable housing opportunities for all.”
These results suggest that a broad-based initiative to educate housing providers about their fair housing rights and obligations could be helpful. The study also suggests that housing, disability, and civil rights organizations should increase their efforts to educate persons with mental disabilities about their housing rights, how to recognize discrimination, and what actions they should take when facing possible discrimination.
The federal Fair Housing Act, as well as North Carolina’s State Fair Housing Act, prohibits discrimination against a person because of disability. (Discrimination is also prohibited based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, and familial status.) In addition, housing providers are required to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, and procedures to allow a person with a disability to be able to use and enjoy a dwelling. Disability discrimination is now the most common type of housing discrimination complaint filed: In fiscal year 2016, 58% of complaints filed with HUD and its partner agencies under the Fair Housing Act were on the basis of disability.
Click here to read HUD’s press release regarding the study.
Click here to read HUD’s study.