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Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities


Posted Date: August 24, 2007

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On July 25, 2005, HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson released the study Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities: Barriers at Every Step. He also released a companion report, Discrimination Against Persons with Disabilities: Guidance for Practitioners, that uses the lesson from the research study to give guidance to practitioners on how to do disability discrimination testing.

These are the last in a series of reports specified by Congress to use paired testing to measure the level of discrimination in the United States. The three previous reports showed the level of discrimination experienced by African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans when they inquired about a unit advertised for sale or rent. The series of studies is commonly referred to as the Housing Discrimination Study 2000. Under contract to HUD, the Urban Institute conducted the research for all of these studies.

Barriers at Every Step

The report, Barriers at Every Step, shows the level of discrimination faced by two groups in the Chicago metropolitan area:
  • Persons who are deaf and use a telephone relay service to inquire about a rental unit and
  • Persons using wheelchairs who visit a rental provider in person.

The Urban Institute’s analysis of 200 paired tests have the following three key findings:

  1. Landlords who advertised units for rent refused to speak to deaf persons in one-of-four calls, while non-disabled callers were given information about the units.
  2. For both deaf persons and wheelchair users that were able to get some information, they did not receive the same level of encouragement as non-disabled persons in a quarter of the tests.
  3. The majority of landlords agree to requests of reasonable accommodation and reasonable modification. Nonetheless, about 19 percent of landlords refused a request for a reasonable accommodation and 16 percent said they would not permit a reasonable modification.


* Adobe Acrobat (*.pdf, 960 KB)


Testing Guidance for Practitioners

This report draws upon experience of the Disability Discrimination Study (DDS) and offers practical information to advocates, enforcement and regulatory agencies, and other interested parties about the possible uses of disability discrimination testing as an investigative tool to aid in the enforcement of the fair housing laws. The guide is not intended to be a definitive “how to” manual that describes a singular approach to conducting tests for discrimination against persons with disabilities. The purpose of this guide is to offer general guidance, insights, and resources for organizations interested in conducting disability discrimination testing.


* Adobe Acrobat (*.pdf, 1.61 MB)



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