Disability-related housing discrimination claims soar

Nearly half of all housing complaints filed under the Fair Housing Act were based on disability related concerns, according to a new report from the National Fair Housing Alliance.

More than 27,000 complaints were filed nationwide last year under the Fair Housing Act, with about 44 percent of coming from people with disabilities, representing a six percent increase from the previous year.

“Eliminating individual and systemic acts of discrimination that affect our life opportunities is paramount to achieving a productive U.S. workforce capable of competing on a global level,” the report states.

The report, titled Fair Housing in a Changing Nation, provides three explanations for the increasing number of disability related claims.

Graphic of fair housing with bright colored housing
Fair Housing?

Many housing complaints are based on the refusal of landlords to provide reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, such as “waiving no-pets policies for the visually impaired who use guide dogs; providing reserved parking spaces; and allowing those with disabilities to modify barriers that impede accessibility, like steep steps,” according to an article by AOL Real Estate.

As a result, discrimination against people with disabilities is often more transparent than other types of discrimination, such as discrimination relating to race, gender and other protected classes.

Despite extensive outreach from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, landlords nationwide continue to create facilities that fall blatantly short of the architectural standards required under the FHA and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The Department of Housing and Urban Development has become more aggressive in recent years in filing complaints, having created a new office to investigate disability complaints.

This expanded enforcement has also expanded to housing complaints beyond just architectural standards, most notably its lawsuit in February that accused Bank of America of discriminating against people with disabilities by imposing “unnecessary and burdensome requirements” when individuals are applying for mortgage loans.