Deaf people face discrimination in housing search

January 27, 2014
It got to the point where Terrell Brittain would begin every call about an apartment listing with the threat: “Don’t hang up or I will file a federal complaint.”
     Discrimination is an all-too-common part of housing searches for Brittain and other deaf people, according to a recent report from the National Fair Housing Alliance that details systemic illegal treatment of deaf people seeking rentals at dozens of apartment complexes nationwide.
     “I felt dehumanized. It wasn’t fair,” said Brittain, a professor of American Sign Language Interpretation at the University of Houston, who was hung up on when he searched for an apartment.
     About 1 in 4 of the 117 large rental firms investigated in 2013 displayed differential treatment toward deaf and hearing apartment seekers with matching qualifications. Those 30 companies that appeared to discriminate own more than 2,000 apartment complexes in 57 cities.