By Brian Peters, Community Access & Policy Specialist
The National Fair Housing Alliance has released its “2016 Fair Housing Trends Report.” In it, they note that disability-related housing discrimination complaints are now 55.1% of all fair housing complaints.
Under the federal Fair Housing Act, there are seven protected classes: race, color, national origin, disability, familial status, sex and religion. The Wisconsin Open Housing Law has similar protected classes: sex, color, disability, national origin, family status, lawful source of income, race, sexual orientation, religion, marital status, age, ancestry and status as a victim of domestic abuse, sexual abuse or stalking.
What does “protected classes” mean? It means it’s illegal to discriminate against someone because of their status as a member of a protected class. In other words, a housing provider, or a housing lender, can’t discriminate against someone because the person is “too old,” “too young,” a woman, has kids, has a disability, has “the wrong skin color,” etc. It doesn’t mean that you can’t be rejected for legitimate reasons like bad credit, bad references, etc.
So why is the discrimination rate against people with disabilities so high? The National Fair Housing Alliance believes that part of the answer is that discrimination on the basis of disability is more obvious, and easier to notice than other types of discrimination.
People who feel that they may have experienced housing discrimination should contact the Metropolitan Milwaukee Fair Housing Council at 414-278-1240 V/Relay. There is also a toll-free statewide complaint intake line at 1-877-647-3247 V/Relay.