What Types of Disabilities Are Protected by the Fair Housing Act?

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What Types of Disabilities Are Protected by the Fair Housing Act?

Staff Writer · Oct 28, 2009

Anyone with a disability, or who is an advocate of someone with a disability status, may be looking at Fair Housing Act accommodations for those who government considers disabled. Knowing more about these housing laws can help advocates for disabled tenants to find their rights under the law in order to prevent housing hardships that they may encounter because of their disabilities.

What Is the Fair Housing Act?

The Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (FHEO) is an agency of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). This agency is tasked with helping Americans to understand legislation including the Fair Housing Act that is meant to protect the rights of tenants. The Fair Housing Act is a part of the civil rights act of 1968 that was set up to prevent housing discrimination, including disability discrimination. It represents part of a greater body of progressive legislation aimed at making sure that America’s most vulnerable are provided shelter.

What Is a Disability under the Fair Housing Act?

Information resources from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development show that the Fair Housing Act creates a fairly wide definition for disabilities, beginning with visual, auditory or mobile impairment, and extending to conditions such as chronic alcoholism or mental illness as well as AIDS and related conditions. According to this definition of disabilities, a disability will generally impair one or more of several major life activities. These include items as diverse as breathing, standing or walking and caring for oneself daily.

Intentions of the Fair Housing Act

From the parameters of this anti-discrimination act, it’s clear that one goal of the legislation was to empower those with fundamental impairments. It’s also clear that another goal of this legislation was to prevent hardship in finding housing due to some stigmatized conditions. The language of the law includes statements that landlords should not be able to discriminate against someone with a disability because they are uncomfortable with that disability.

Other Provisions for People with Disabilities

Additional provisions in housing law include access for those who are disabled. The Americans with Disabilities Act governs access to public buildings, but for residential buildings, the wheelchair-bound and other individuals with impaired mobility count on progressive housing law to provide them with access to a home or rental unit.

The Fair Housing Act also includes a provision for the disabled to make their own reasonable alterations to a home in order to get appropriate access. This commonly involves adding ramps and support bars, or changing a bathroom area to remove obstacles to access. Another provision of the Fair Housing Act makes it illegal to deny a disabled individual access to federal assistance for housing on the basis of their condition.

The above basic information characterizes part of what is in the Fair Housing Act for those who need to plan for housing in a situation including a disabled family member or other individual. This kind of law shows the federal government’s outlook on this kind of issue.

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