Study Finds Housing Discrimination against People in Wheelchairs and People who are Deaf
A report by the Urban Institute, Discrimination in the Rental Housing Market against People Who Are Deaf and People Who Use Wheelchairs, reveals that people in wheelchairs are more likely to face discrimination in the rental housing market than similarly qualified apartment seekers who are not in wheelchairs. The study also found discrimination against people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The study used paired testing to detect discrimination. In paired testing, two people with similar characteristics and qualifications, including age, gender, ethnicity, race, and assigned income and wealth, are paired together with the only perceivable difference being the characteristic to be tested. For example, a long-term wheelchair user was matched with a tester of the same age, gender, and race but who was ambulatory. The pair respond to the same advertisement to determine whether they are treated equally.
The researchers conducted tests for discrimination against people in wheelchairs in 30 metropolitan statistical areas (MSA). Only 43.8% of advertisements for privately owned rental housing in these markets led to units that were accessible by wheelchair, meaning that both the building and an available unit were accessible. MSAs with a larger proportion of rental units in large multifamily buildings of 10 or more units and a larger proportion of rental units constructed after 1990 had a higher proportion of accessible units.
The paired tests found that housing providers were 1.7% less likely to make appointments with wheelchair users. When appointments were made with both testers of a pair and suitable units were available, housing providers were 2.4% less likely to tell the wheelchair users about the available units. When housing providers told both testers about available units and where they were located, the providers were 3.1% less likely to show the units to the wheelchair users. In some paired tests, the housing provider told the person in a wheelchair that a rental unit could not be shown because it was occupied. The tester without a wheelchair was shown the unit. When units were shown, people in wheelchairs were 2.8% less likely to be shown at least one unit without housing quality problems.
The paired tests for deaf or hard of hearing users were conducted remotely, using one of three types of telecommunications relay service. The tests covered 168 MSAs. Deaf or hard of hearing apartment seekers were 5.1% less likely to be able to contact a housing agent. When both testers of a pair were able to speak with a housing agent, the deaf or hard of hearing person was 2.3% less likely to be told of available units.
Discrimination in the Rental Housing Market against People Who Are Deaf and People Who Use Wheelchairs is available at http://bit.ly/1UIcaMQ