Faces of DFEH
Real real-life stories about how DFEH is protecting and enforcing the civil rights of all Californians.
DISCRIMINATION BASED ON DISABILITY
What was your experience that led you to seek out help from CRD?
After relocating to Southern California from Indiana, I began actively searching for affordable housing options available for low income, disabled senior citizens. I applied at a housing complex for seniors that uses a tax credits subsidy to create affordable housing. The location was ideal, and the apartment complex appeared to be well-kept. My housing advocate from U.S. Vets assisted me in making sure that the complex received my application. When I asked my housing advocate about the status of my application, she told me that the only reason I was being denied the apartment was because of the size of my service dog. I told her it was It illegal to deny housing to a disabled American (or anyone) on the sole basis of their service animal’s physical size. I was unable to get anyone to help me investigate this. That’s when and why I picked up the phone and filed a complaint with CRD.
How did that experience affect you?
I was dumbfounded to the point of tears and felt completely helpless. But I was also very irritated because I have worked my whole life. I really needed an affordable place to live, and I just couldn’t find it in myself to lie down and take it one more time. And even though I worked 33 years in my industry, my retirement disability income is still considered low income, so there weren’t a lot of options available for me. When I was denied this apartment, I felt completely defeated. You can only take so many losses in your corner without a single win, so you get depressed and just want to give up. But fortunately, that is not my life today. I was able to move into my apartment and I love it. It’s even better than I expected.
What do you want people to take away from your experience?
What I would like people to take away from this is that there are agencies put in place to protect us. Additionally, I would like to add that I think our local state and federal government has done an excellent job at creating programs to ensure that services are available to all regardless of your income or lack of income. I also think it’s important to remember that once you find the agency to provide the services you need don’t treat it like a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. Your best hope for success is being an active participant throughout this whole thing.
What do you want people to know about discrimination?
I’m a white guy. But I can say this discrimination (housing discrimination against people with disabilities) is a lot more prevalent than most people think. I had no idea until I was living in it.
How was your experience with CRD?
I cannot find enough good things to say about the people in CRD who I worked with. These people have made a profound difference in improving my quality of life. It would not have happened had I not gotten involved with them. They helped me get this apartment that I was denied because of the size of my service dog. Looking back on where I was then and where I am now, I have tears of joy, and that was because of the individuals I worked with at CRD. You have no idea how much my apartment means to me and how much CRD is responsible for making it possible. I just want to say thank you.