Renters With Disabilities Face Bias in Chicago Study

Associated Press
Tuesday, July 26, 2005

CHICAGO, July 25 -- Wheelchair users and the hearing-impaired are frequently discriminated against when trying to rent apartments in the Chicago area, a federal study released Monday found.

The study used pairs of testers -- one disabled and the other not -- to compare how landlords treated each tester when they asked about the same apartments.

The wheelchair users faced discrimination in about one-third of their visits to rental properties, the study found. Hearing-impaired testers were either refused service or given less information in about half their calls. Queries by the hearing-impaired testers were routed via a system that uses an operator to relay the caller's typed message.

Housing and Urban Development Secretary Alphonso Jackson said he was surprised by the Urban Institute findings and would increase HUD's educational efforts.

By law, it is illegal for housing providers to discriminate against the disabled. Landlords are required to allow for reasonable structural modifications or policy accommodations necessary to allow disabled residents full enjoyment of the premises.

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