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Is Housing Discrimination A Problem In San Diego?

Is Housing Discrimination A Problem In San Diego?
Is There A Housing Discrimination Problem In San Diego? GUESTS:Branden Butler, senior attorney fair housing, Legal Aid Society of San DiegoJason Ford, plaintiff, disability discrimination case

I'm Maureen Cavanaugh, ever since the first federal fair housing act became law in 1968 the concept of fair housing has expanded from its initial concentration on preventing racial discrimination and now encompasses fair access to housing of four people of all ages and orientations. People's understanding hasn't always kept up. The city of San Diego has designated April as fair housing month. Joining me is Branden Butler, he is senior attorney fair housing at the Legal Aid Society of San Diego . Welcome. Good afternoon. Jason Ford joins us he was a plaintiff. Now, Brandon is San Diego living up to the laws? We experienced discrimination in San Diego. In San Diego we mirror national discrimination. We can talk about that there is been great achievements, and much less discrimination, we still do face discrimination. What kinds of discrimination claims,? Just like an hour -- in our national statistics, and in place tenant, familial status, not renting to them if they have children. Race is still an issue and national origin comes up. That is not renting to people based on their country of origin. We still do see acts of discrimination. When it comes to discrimination based on disability, what kind of access most a landlord offer a potential renter? When it comes down to offering a potential renter housing and that renter has a disability. The key that the fair housing act would state is that persons with disabilities are entitled to make reasonable accommodation to any rule, practice or procedure or modification if it is necessary for the disability. I think with landlords the idea is the idea of having a prospective tenant who may need a modification, like a ramp. You may also see a combination for someone to mail rent in, or to reserve parking. Landlords need to understand that the right of cut accommodation ours is spelled out. The cost is borne by the renter. That is right. In private housing, the tenant has to pay for those modifications, as opposed to subsidized housing where the housing is owned by the government or city or receives federal funding, they would have to pay for the modification. Jason, you sued to gain access to an apartment. How did you want the apartment modified? Where I could be able to -- the unit was very small, I couldn't get into the shower, it was not fit for a disabled person. I wanted it big enough, so I could get into the shower. That didn't happen until we had to step up. The landlord in this case, apparently, beyond the modifications was concerned that as a quadriplegic you work, too disabled for the apartment. How did you respond to that? No one is to -- too disabled. I overlooked it. It wasn't really does it didn't really -- what it does is to make you feel as if you are too disabled, because it happened over there. I overlooked that to overcome my future outcome of filling out applications and moving into another apartment. Tran 18, how is the case resolved? It was settled where the housing provider agreed to retrofit the units to make them accessible. Notice to all tenants about what your rights are. As well as, there was a financial some -- some, paid. Housing was opened up in San Diego for persons with disabilities and will reduce other people from having to go through the situation. You did have a victory, how do you feel about that? I feel pretty good. Everything came out on our side. What do you find, Branden ? Is it because people just don't know what it is that they must do? I think that's a strong issue. There are folks, housing is a business, you are in the business, there are folks that are not aware of the federal fair housing act. I think they're ours landlords that discriminate unintentionally. Sometimes we resolve cases through education and mediation, working with the landlord to understand what the law is and what their obligation is under the law. There is just a lack of understanding of the law. For people who believe that they have been discriminated against in the housing in San Diego, what should they do? If you believe you've been of the them of discrimination, you have several options. The legal aid Society is here to provide services free of charge we can be reached at LA ST.orc. We are here in San Diego to provide that service for folks who feel they've been discriminated against. I've been speaking with Branden Butler and Jason Ford. Congratulations Jason and thank you for coming in. You are listening to KPBS Midday Edition .

When the federal Fair Housing Act became a law in 1968, it focused on preventing racial discrimination.

Since then, the law has expanded to include fair access to housing for people of all ages, sexual orientations and disabilities. To put attention on the issue, San Diego has designated April as fair housing month.

A survey released in May by the San Diego Regional Alliance for Fair Housing showed a majority of the 377 people who participated in the study did not consider housing discrimination an issue in their neighborhood.


Even so, 93 of those surveyed said they had experienced some form of housing discrimination. In that group, 33 percent said the discrimination was based on race, 29 percent on disability, 29 percent on source of income and 22 percent on age.

Jason Ford, a quadriplegic who uses a wheelchair, filed a disability discrimination case against an apartment in downtown San Diego.

“The unit was very small, so I couldn't get into the shower,” Ford told KPBS Midday Edition on Monday. “It wasn't really fit for someone disabled.”

Besides modifying the unit for accessibility, the landlord was concerned that Ford was “too disabled” for the building.

“What we see is a lot of is a lack of understanding of the law even though it's been around for some time,” Branden Butler, senior attorney with the Legal Aid Society of San Diego, told Midday Edition.


The housing provider eventually settled the case, agreeing to retrofit 14 units, train its staff and inform their tenants of their rights.

“I actually feel pretty good,” Ford said. “Everything came out on our side.”