NFHA: Deaf discrimination at apartment complexes


by JESSICA HOLLOWAY / KVUE News, photojournalist SCOTT MCKENNEY and

Posted on January 9, 2014 at 6:09 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 9 at 11:15 PM

AUSTIN -- Three Austin apartment complexes have come under fire after an investigation into discrimination. According to the Austin Tenants' Council, the apartments have not been treating deaf people fairly.

The National Fair Housing Alliance, National Association of the Deaf, and Austin Tenants' Council held an online news conference at noon Thursday to file complaints against the apartment complexes.

"Housing is the lynchpin you hang your whole life around. If you can't get access to housing at the same level other people are getting access, then you are at a real disadvantage than the rest of the population," said Kathy Stark with Austin Tenants' Council.

Stark helped lead the investigation into Bell Austin Southwest on Slaughter Lane, Pecan Grove on North Lamar and Amli on Burnet.

"I want to educate the populous that's it's not alright to discriminate and also educate the deaf community they have rights," said Stark.

The manager of Pecan Grove said they do not discriminate against anyone. In fact, she said she houses several visually impaired people.

Stark said she doesn't feel that a lawsuit is necessary if changes can start happening.

"A lawsuit seems to get people's attention. Up until that, it just doesn't get attention," Stark said.

The complaints are going to be filed with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The complaints were collected during a nation-wide undercover investigation which documented how deaf and hard of hearing rental applications were treated compared to others who weren't deaf. The NFHA said the investigation in 98 cities, including Austin, saw a big pattern of discrimination.

The NFHA spoke about the report titled, "Are You Listening Now?" and planned to show fair housing videos for the deaf and hard of hearing community.