Housing Discrimination for People with Disabilities

Imagine finding the perfect place to settle down. It’s close to family. It’s affordable. It’s in a safe neighborhood. Unfortunately, your application is rejected for reasons beyond your control.

Your religion. Your race. The fact that you have disabilities.

This is housing discrimination.

What is Housing Discrimination?

Housing discrimination is the illegal act of refusing to rent or sell a dwelling to someone based on their gender, race, skin color, religion, familial status (single, married, divorced), or disabilty. While the Fair Housing Act was enacted in 1968 to prevent this kind of maltreatment, many people still experience housing discrimination today.

Housing discrimination is especially common for adults with disabilities. In fact, over half of all housing discrimination complaints filed in 2020 were against people with disabilities. There are many ways in which people with disabilities experience housing discrimination.

Housing Discrimination Examples for People with Disabilities

  1. The housing provider refuses to make or allow the individual to make reasonable modifications to the property, when the individual is willing to pay for such modifications. Reasonable modifications are defined as changes to the physical structure such as ramps, bathroom grab bars, and other necessary installations that enable a person with a disability to live at that residence.
  2. The housing provider refuses to make reasonable accommodations regarding the property’s rules, policies, or procedures in order for the individual to live at the residence. Reasonable accommodations might include allowing a service animal, use of non-toxic cleaning products in common areas, and/or a special parking space for a resident with a mobility impairment.
  3. The housing provider offers unfair terms and conditions for adults with disabilities. For example, charging a higher security deposit or rent for someone who has a disability than for someone who does not have a disability would be an instance of housing discrimination.
  4. The housing provider refuses to rent or sell the residence to an individual because of their disabilities. Not only is this in direct violation of the Fair Housing Act, it’s a violation of that person’s rights.

Resources for Filing Housing Discrimination Complaints

In any of the above scenarios, an individual being discriminated against would have a valid complaint to file with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). If you believe you have been discriminated against or would like to request reasonable accommodations and/or auxiliary aids and services, contact the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO)—an agency within HUD.

For complaints local to the greater Milwaukee area, Brown County, Calumet County, Winnebago County, and more, contact the Fair Housing Council of Northeast Wisconsin (FHCNW). FHCNW helps people who have experienced illegal housing discrimination and unfair lending practices.

Adult Family Homes for Individuals with Disabilities

An Adult Family Home (AFH) is a safe environment for up to four non-related individuals to reside together and receive room, board, and basic care. An AFH can be an affordable solution for adults with disabilities who want to live independently, but have care on-site and available as needed. This option is often fundable through Family Care and IRIS.

Although they appear to be traditional residential homes that have simply been retrofitted to accommodate the needs of their residents, Adult Family Homes are licensed and regulated by the state. This ensures occupants receive proper care and modifications.

Covey is proud to announce that coming spring of 2022, we will open our first Adult Family Home in the Fox Valley. To learn more about this exciting new offering, connect with us at info@covey.org or follow us on Facebook for updates!